Background: Cardiac allograft vasculopathy (CAV) causes impaired blood flow in both epicardial coronary arteries and the microvasculature. A leading cause of post-transplant mortality, CAV affects 50% of heart transplant recipients within 10 years of heart transplant. Objectives: This analysis examined the outcomes of heart transplant recipients with reduced myocardial blood flow reserve (MBFR) and microvascular CAV detected by 13N-ammonia positron emission tomography (PET) myocardial perfusion imaging. Methods: A total of 181 heart transplant recipients who underwent PET to assess for CAV were included with a median follow-up of 4.7 years. Patients were classified into 2 groups according to the total MBFR: >2.0 and ≤2.0. Microvascular CAV was defined as no epicardial CAV detected by PET and/or coronary angiography, but with an MBFR ≤2.0 by PET. Results: In total, 71 (39%) patients had an MBFR ≤2.0. Patients with an MBFR ≤2.0 experienced an increased risk for all outcomes: 7-fold increase in death or retransplantation (HR: 7.05; 95% CI: 3.2-15.6; P < 0.0001), 12-fold increase in cardiovascular death (HR: 12.0; 95% CI: 2.64-54.12; P = 0.001), and 10-fold increase in cardiovascular hospitalization (HR: 10.1; 95% CI: 3.43-29.9; P < 0.0001). The 5-year mean survival was 302 days less than those with an MBFR >2.0 (95% CI: 260.2-345.4 days; P < 0.0001). Microvascular CAV (adjusted HR: 3.86; 95% CI: 1.58-9.40; P = 0.003) was independently associated with an increased risk of death or retransplantation. Conclusions: Abnormal myocardial blood flow reserve, even in the absence of epicardial CAV, identifies patients at a high risk of death or retransplantation. Measures of myocardial blood flow provide prognostic information in addition to traditional CAV assessment.
- cardiac allograft vasculopathy
- heart transplant
- microvascular dysfunction
- positron emission tomography
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine