Most people who receive a heart transplant enjoy a high quality of life. They can return to work within three to six months of a heart transplant and have few activity restrictions.

Recipient survival rates vary based on a number of factors. For example, in the U.S. the overall survival rate is nearly 90 percent after one year and 74 percent after five years.

What if your new heart fails?

Heart transplants aren't successful for everyone. Your new heart may fail because of organ rejection or because of the development of valvular heart disease or coronary artery disease. Should this happen, your doctor may recommend adjusting your medications or in more extreme cases, another heart transplant.

In some cases, additional treatment options are limited and you may choose to stop treatment. Discussions with your heart transplant team, physician and family should address your expectations and preferences for treatment, emergency care and end-of-life care.

Dec. 10, 2010