A team of researchers, including our own clinician-scientists, studied the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) database and found 485 PPCM patients who were treated with a heart transplant. Here is what the researchers noticed about these women:

  • They were younger than other heart transplant recipients.
  • They had higher sensitization, or higher levels of antibodies that would react to the donor heart's tissue.
  • They were sicker while waiting for a heart transplant.
  • After transplant, these women had more rejection — a reaction where the patient's immune system attacks the tissue of the donor heart.
  • Their donor hearts had a shorter life compared to all other heart transplant recipients.
  • They had a shorter survival time compared to all other heart transplant recipients.

Researchers also noticed that some of the women transplanted for PPCM had a longer graft survival time than other women in the group. Many of the women who did better shared the following characteristics:

  • The were transplanted as a status 1b, which means they were higher on the transplant waiting list.
  • They had a left ventricular assist device — a heart pump — or continuous IV medicine to support their heart while they waited for their heart transplant.
  • They were older than the average age of the 485 women.
  • They had higher rates of re-transplant

These studies may encourage healthcare providers to consider higher levels of care for patients with PPCM who are critically ill. Providers can refer these patients to medical centers with advanced resources, such has heart transplant and left ventricular assist device teams.