A heart transplant, or a cardiac transplant, is a surgical transplant procedure performed on patients with end-stage heart failure or severe coronary artery disease when other medical or surgical treatments have failed.
Heart transplants are performed when other treatments for heart problems haven't worked, leading to heart failure. In adults, heart failure can be caused by several conditions, including:
In children, heart failure is most often caused by either a congenital heart defect or a cardiomyopathy.
A heart transplant isn't the right treatment for everyone. Certain factors may mean you're not a good candidate for a heart transplant. While each case is considered individually by a transplant center, a heart transplant may not be appropriate if you:
For some people who can't have a heart transplant, another option may be a left ventricular assist device (LVAD). A ventricular assist device is a mechanical pump implanted in your chest that helps pump blood from the lower chambers of your heart (ventricles) to the rest of your body.
LVADs are commonly used as a temporary treatment for people waiting for a heart transplant. These devices are increasingly being used as a long-term treatment for people who have heart failure but aren't eligible for a heart transplant. If an LVAD doesn't help your heart, doctors may sometimes consider a total artificial heart — a device that replaces the ventricles of your heart — as an alternative short-term treatment while you're waiting for a heart transplant.