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J Heart Lung Transplant. 2015 Jun;34(6):825-31. doi: 10.1016/j.healun.2014.12.012. Epub 2014 Dec 24.

Race and ethnic differences in the epidemiology and risk factors for graft failure after heart transplantation.

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Emory University (a)School of Medicine. Electronic address:
Emory University (a)School of Medicine.
Rollins School of Public Health.
School of Nursing, Atlanta, Georgia.



Contemporary epidemiology of chronic graft failure (GF) after heart transplantation (HT) is not well described. Moreover, differences in the epidemiology of GF based on race/ethnicity remain poorly understood, despite clear evidence of inferior survival of ethnic minorities after HT.


The incidence of GF and the population-attributable risk (PAR) of independent risk factors for GF were assessed in 15,255 patients (76% men; mean age 52 ± 12 years) who underwent primary HT from 2004 to 2012.


During a median follow-up of 4.7 years (interquartile range, 2.3-7.1 years), GF developed in 2,926 patients (19.2%), corresponding to an incidence rate of 39.8/1,000 person-years (95% confidence interval, 38.4-41.3). Blacks were more likely to develop GF than Hispanics or whites, with incidence rates of 55.1, 42.2, and 36.5/1,000 person-years, respectively. After multivariable adjustment, black race was associated with a higher risk of GF (hazard ratio, 1.4; 95% confidence interval, 1.2-1.6; p < 0.001). Blacks and Hispanics were more likely to have risk factors for GF, including low education, public insurance, allosensitization, higher human leukocyte antigen mismatch, non-adherence, and history of rejection requiring hospitalization (all p < 0.001). Rejection requiring hospitalization carried the highest population-attributable risk in all groups, with the highest fraction in blacks (25.8%) compared with whites (18.6%) and Hispanics (15.6%). Socioeconomic and donor risk factors conferred relatively less risk of GF.


Black HT recipients have the highest risk of GF, with immunologic factors conferring the greatest proportion of that risk. Racial differences in risk factors for GF after HT require further study.


cardiac allograft vasculopathy; graft failure; heart transplant; population-attributable risk; race/ethnicity

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