What are the characteristics and outcomes of patients with heart transplant who are infected with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)?
In this case series of 28 patients who had received heart transplant in a large academic center, the case fatality rate among patients infected with COVID-19 was 25%. Cardiovascular comorbidities were frequent in this population, and immunosuppressive therapy was reduced in most patients.
Recipients of heart transplant are at high risk for severe complications from coronavirus disease 2019 infection; management of this population is complex and should take place in a transplant center.
Recipients of heart transplant (HT) may be at increased risk of adverse outcomes attributable to infection with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) because of multiple comorbidities and clinically significant immunosuppression.
To describe the characteristics, treatment, and outcomes of recipients of HT with COVID-19.
Design, Setting, and Participants
This case series from a single large academic heart transplant program in New York, New York, incorporates data from between March 1, 2020, and April 24, 2020. All recipients of HT followed up by this center who were infected with COVID-19 were included.
Heart transplant and a confirmed diagnosis of COVID-19.
Main Outcomes and Measures
The primary measure was vital status at end of study follow-up. Secondary measures included patient characteristics, laboratory analyses, changes to immunosuppression, and treatment administered for COVID-19.
Twenty-eight patients with HT received a confirmed diagnosis of COVID-19. The median age was 64.0 (interquartile range [IQR], 53.5-70.5) years, 22 (79%) were men, and the median time from HT was 8.6 (IQR, 4.2-14.5) years. Comorbid conditions included hypertension in 20 patients (71%), diabetes in 17 patients (61%), and cardiac allograft vasculopathy in 16 patients (57%). Twenty-two participants (79%) were admitted for treatment, and 7 (25%) required mechanical ventilation. Most (13 of 17 [76%]) had evidence of myocardial injury (median high-sensitivity troponin T, 0.055 [IQR, 0.0205-0.1345] ng/mL) and elevated inflammatory biomarkers (median peak high-sensitivity C-reactive protein, 11.83 [IQR, 7.44-19.26] mg/dL; median peak interleukin 6, 105 [IQR, 38-296] pg/mL). Among patients managed at the study institution, mycophenolate mofetil was discontinued in 16 patients (70%), and 6 (26%) had a reduction in the dose of their calcineurin inhibitor. Treatment of COVID-19 included hydroxychloroquine (18 patients [78%]), high-dose corticosteroids (8 patients [47%]), and interleukin 6 receptor antagonists (6 patients [26%]). Overall, 7 patients (25%) died. Among 22 patients (79%) who were admitted, 11 (50%) were discharged home, 4 (18%) remain hospitalized at the end of the study, and 7 (32%) died during hospitalization.
Conclusions and Relevance
In this single-center case series, COVID-19 infection was associated with a case fatality rate of 25% in recipients of HT. Immunosuppression was reduced in most of this group of patients. Further study is required to evaluate the optimal approach to management of COVID-19 infection in the HT population.