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J Am Coll Cardiol. 1996 Sep;28(3):673-9.

Early development of accelerated graft coronary artery disease: risk factors and course.

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Division of Cardiovascular Medicine, Stanford University School of Medicine, California 94305-5246, USA.



This study assessed the time of first appearance of angiographic graft coronary artery disease in relation to clinical and laboratory variables and clinical events in heart transplant recipients.


Graft coronary artery disease is the main factor limiting long-term survival after heart transplantation, and it is important to understand its natural history.


One hundred thirty-nine consecutive patients who developed angiographic coronary artery disease after heart transplantation were classified according to early (< or = 2 years) versus late (> 2 years) posttransplantation initial detection of coronary artery disease. These subgroups were analyzed for differences in clinical and laboratory demographics, incidence of progression to ischemic events and incidence of antecedent cytomegalovirus infection.


The early-onset group (64 patients) had more rapid progression to ischemic events than the late-onset group (75 patients), with 59% of the late group and only 35% of the early group free from ischemic events by 5 years after initial detection (p = 0.02), but there were no significantly correlated clinical or laboratory predictors of ischemic events. The early group had a significantly higher incidence of antecedent cytomegalovirus infection.


We conclude that 1) accelerated graft coronary artery disease develops at variable times after heart transplantation; 2) the early appearance of graft coronary artery disease may be a marker of intrinsically more aggressive disease; 3) cytomegalovirus infection is associated with earlier onset of graft coronary artery disease. Patients with early development of graft coronary artery disease should potentially be given priority for interventional strategies as they are developed.

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