Prevalence of accelerated coronary artery disease in heart transplant survivors. Comparison of cyclosporine and azathioprine regimens. Circulation Gao, S. Z., Schroeder, J. S., Alderman, E. L., Hunt, S. A., Valantine, H. A., WIEDERHOLD, V., Stinson, E. B. 1989; 80 (5): III100-5


Rapid development of diffuse, occlusive coronary artery disease in the cardiac allograft has emerged as a major limiting factor for long-term survival after transplantation. Prior multivariate analyses have failed to identify any strong predictors of this disease. We retrospectively reviewed serial annual coronary angiograms to assess the prevalence of transplant coronary artery disease. A total of 103 patients treated initially with azathioprine-based therapy were compared with a later cohort of 78 patients for whom cyclosporine was the basis of immunosuppressive therapy. The percent of patients free of angiographically visible transplant coronary artery disease at 1 year was 89% for the azathioprine group versus 86% for the cyclosporine group. At 3 years, 74% of the azathioprine group versus 63% of the cyclosporine group were free of visible disease (p = NS). By the fifth postoperative year, 58% of azathioprine-treated and 50% of cyclosporine-treated patients were free of transplant coronary artery disease (p = NS). The mean number of rejection episodes in the first year after transplantation was 2.0 for cyclosporine patients versus 2.5 for azathioprine patients. The azathioprine and cyclosporine patients were compared with respect to a variety of baseline and clinical follow-up measurements that might influence the development of coronary artery disease. Patients in the cyclosporine group had higher blood pressure (135/94 versus 123/85 mm Hg, p less than 0.001) and were receiving lower maintenance prednisone doses. This study demonstrates that improved cyclosporine immunosuppression does not decrease the time-related prevalence of transplant coronary artery disease.

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