Cardiovascular Risk Assessment of the Liver Transplant Candidate

Department of Medicine, Division of Cardiology, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, Illinois 60611, USA.
Journal of the American College of Cardiology (Impact Factor: 16.5). 07/2011; 58(3):223-31. DOI: 10.1016/j.jacc.2011.03.026
Source: PubMed


Liver transplantation (LT) candidates today are increasingly older, have greater medical acuity, and have more cardiovascular comorbidities than ever before. Steadily rising model for end-stage liver disease (MELD) scores at the time of transplant, resulting from high organ demand, reflect the escalating risk profiles of LT candidates. In addition to advanced age and the presence of comorbidities, there are specific cardiovascular responses in cirrhosis that can be detrimental to the LT candidate. Patients with cirrhosis requiring LT usually demonstrate increased cardiac output and a compromised ventricular response to stress, a condition termed cirrhotic cardiomyopathy. These cardiac disturbances are likely mediated by decreased beta-agonist transduction, increased circulating inflammatory mediators with cardiodepressant properties, and repolarization changes. Low systemic vascular resistance and bradycardia are also commonly seen in cirrhosis and can be aggravated by beta-blocker use. These physiologic changes all contribute to the potential for cardiovascular complications, particularly with the altered hemodynamic stresses that LT patients face in the immediate post-operative period. Post-transplant reperfusion may result in cardiac death due to a multitude of causes, including arrhythmia, acute heart failure, and myocardial infarction. Recognizing the hemodynamic challenges encountered by LT patients in the perioperative period and how these responses can be exacerbated by underlying cardiac pathology is critical in developing recommendations for the pre-operative risk assessment and management of these patients. The following provides a review of the cardiovascular challenges in LT candidates, as well as evidence-based recommendations for their evaluation and management.

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    • "Apart from the fact that they are older and have more comorbidity, there are specific cardiovascular responses to cirrhosis that can have a harmful effect on the postoperative course after LT. As presented by Raval [1], patients with cirrhosis usually demonstrate increased cardiac output and a compromised ventricular response to stress, a condition termed cirrhotic cardiomyopathy. Low systemic vascular resistance and bradycardia are also commonly seen in cirrhosis and can be aggravated by beta-blocker use. "
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    ABSTRACT: Patient: Female, 51 Final Diagnosis: Takotsubo cardiomyopathy Symptoms: - Medication: - Clinical Procedure: - Specialty: Cardiology • Transplantology. Rare disease. Left ventricular apical ballooning syndrome (LVAB), also known as Takotsubo cardiomyopathy, is a cardiac syndrome characterized by transient left ventricular dysfunction in the absence of obstructive atherosclerotic coronary artery disease. An episode of emotional stress, typically in female patients, is believed to precede and trigger the development of this syndrome. We report a case of Takotsubo cardiomyopathy that developed after orthotopic liver transplantation in a 51-year-old woman. On D2 (day 2) the patient had severe hemodynamic compromise. Echocardiography showed systolic dysfunction of the left ventricle (LV), with ejection fraction (EF) of 20% and anteroapical akinesis and ballooning of the apical 2/3 of the LV. Troponin T was elevated but other markers of myocardial necrosis were negative, as was coronary angiography. From D7 onward, there was an improvement in the hemodynamics in conjunction with a gradual increase of LV EF. The patient was dismissed from the hospital on D30 with signs of normal cardiac function and LV motion and EF of 50%. Liver function was also excellent. Every major operation, including liver transplantation, is associated with emotional stress for the patient. Therefore, it is necessary to consider Takotsubo cardiomyopathy in the differential diagnosis of heart failure developing early after LT, and clinicians should subsequently use adequate diagnostic and therapeutic measures.
    Full-text · Article · Nov 2013 · American Journal of Case Reports
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    ABSTRACT: Background Coronary artery disease (CAD) is a common cause of morbidity and mortality in liver transplant (LT) recipients. To date there is no consensus on the preferred screening tests to detect CAD in the pre-LT population. Therefore the aim of this study was to: 1) evaluate the utility of a noninvasive tool (cardiac computerized tomography [CT] scan); and 2) determine the prevalence of CAD in low-risk LT candidates. Methods Using our transplant database we identified all LT candidates classified as low risk for CAD. All low-risk candidates underwent cardiac CT scan for coronary calcium score (CCS) estimation. Those with CCS >100 underwent coronary angiogram, and those with <100 underwent stress test and if stress test was positive then coronary angiography was performed. The Agatston calcium score was classified as: normal (0), mild (1–100), moderate (101–400), severe (401–1,000), or extensive (>1,000). Results Eighty-five LT candidates were classified as low risk and underwent cardiac CT scan. The mean calcium score was 325 (range, 0–3,707). In our study cohort, 21% had normal CCS score, 43% mild, 13% moderate, 11% severe, and 12% extensive. A calcium score >400 was significantly associated with CAD on angiography (P = .02). Although male sex was significantly associated with the presence of CAD (P = .006), there was no correlation with age, ethnicity, liver diagnosis, or Model for End-Stage Liver Disease score. Conclusions Prevalence of asymptomatic CAD in this low-risk population is relatively high. Cardiac CT is well tolerated and is a useful noninvasive screening tool in LT candidates. Future studies to determine its utility as a prognostic tool after LT will be invaluable.
    No preview · Article · Jan 2011 · Gastroenterology
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    ABSTRACT: This editorial offers a perspective on the role of perioperative cardiac risk stratification in solid organ transplant recipients. See article by Kahn et al on page 2665.
    Preview · Article · Sep 2011 · American Journal of Transplantation
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