New medication options for heart transplant

Mayo Clinic researchers study medications and treatments for people with heart transplants, including new medications (immunosuppressive medications) to keep your body from rejecting your heart transplant.

In the past, people with heart transplants usually have taken corticosteroids (such as prednisone) as one of their immunosuppressive medications to prevent rejection for life. However, corticosteroids may cause weight gain, diabetes, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, and other side effects and complications. You may be able to reduce or stop taking corticosteroids soon after your heart transplant, which may lessen your side effects and complications. You'll still need to take other immunosuppressive medications.

Researchers also study lowering the dose of immunosuppressive medications, such as calcineurin inhibitors, to reduce complications such as kidney function problems.

Other immunosuppressive medication options that have increased in use for people with heart transplants include basiliximab (Simulect), mycophenolate mofetil (CellCept) and mycophenolate oral (Myfortic). Sometimes doctors prescribe sirolimus (Rapamune) and everolimus (Afinitor) for people with heart transplants. Researchers study the potential use of other immunosuppressive medications for people with heart transplants, including alemtuzumab (Campath) and other medications.

Jul. 11, 2013