Lifelong follow-up appointments with your doctor are very important after heart transplant. Some of your heart transplant medications can affect your body in different ways. Your doctor will monitor your body's responses after heart transplant and will adjust your medications as needed.
Visits with your cardiologist after your heart transplant
When you first leave the hospital after heart transplant, you will need to visit your cardiologist often (about once a week). You will need to stay in the Cleveland area with a family member or friend for the first month after your heart transplant. Later, your visits will be less frequent.
If you need to arrange housing after your heart transplant, discuss this with your social worker or housing specialist.
It is important to bring all your medications and your daily log to the doctor at each visit following your heart transplant. The following information should be recorded in your log:
- Names of medications, dose, and time you take them
- Daily weight
- Daily temperature
- Daily heart rate (pulse)
- Daily blood pressure
- Comments, events, or questions you want to ask
This information helps your doctor adjust your medications and care to make your heart transplant recovery as effective as possible.
Your appointments with your cardiologist may include:
- Blood tests
- An electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG)
- A chest x-ray
- A heart biopsy
- A visit with your doctor and transplant coordinator
To detect the development of coronary artery disease (chronic rejection), your doctor will check your heart's arteries and overall function several weeks after your transplant. Two tests will be performed: a cardiac catheterization and intravascular ultrasound.
These tests will be repeated once a year.
Keeping in contact with your transplant coordinator
You may need additional appointments with other specialists or doctors on the day of your appointment with your cardiologist. The transplant coordinator will schedule these visits. If you would like to make an appointment that has not been scheduled, please discuss this with your transplant doctor or transplant coordinator.
Notify your transplant coordinator if you have been prescribed any new medications by any other doctors.
Follow-up with other doctors
Prevention and early detection is best. Some of the problems we may be looking for after transplant include hypertension, coronary artery disease, anemia, low white blood cell counts, skin cancers or other types of malignancy. It is important to see the following doctors for regular exams or as they are needed:
You should see an ophthalmologist for annual eye exams including glaucoma and cataract evaluations. Eye doctor appointments are important, since prednisone can cause vision changes.
Female patients should visit a gynecologist yearly for a pelvic examination and PAP smear, regardless of age. Mammograms should be performed regularly, as recommended by your doctor.
Internal Medicine or Family Medicine Doctor
Male patients over age 50 years should have an annual PSA (prostate specific antigen) blood test.
Regular follow-up appointments with your dentist are important. Your gums may become swollen and bleed easily. Tell your dentist about your transplant so antibiotics can be prescribed for any dental procedure.
Wear sunscreen, protective clothing and a hat when outdoors because of an increased risk of skin cancer. If you notice any unusual skin growths, darkened spots or bumps, see a dermatologist as soon as possible. You may also want to consult a dermatologist if acne is a problem for you after transplant.
Preventive Cardiology Specialist
It is very important to control your risk factors for heart disease. If you have risk factors, such as high blood cholesterol, diabetes, hypertension, being overweight, smoking or high stress or anger, a preventive cardiology specialist can help you reach optimal control.