After heart transplant surgery, you’ll need time to adjust to life with your new heart. Life after transplant requires a commitment to staying healthy. This means taking your medications according to schedule, coming to all follow-up appointments, and maintaining healthy habits. We want you to achieve the best possible outcome after heart transplantation.
Follow-Up Care After Heart Transplant Surgery
For the first four weeks after surgery, you will come to Duke for testing and follow-up care once a week. You will not be able to drive for six weeks after surgery, so your caregiver will need to bring you to these appointments. If you don’t live close to Duke, you may want to find temporary lodging nearby during this time. Your transplant coordinator can help you make these arrangements.
At every follow-up visit, you will meet with members of your transplant team and undergo testing to see how well you’re healing, monitor any medication side effects, and look for signs of rejection. Over time, these visits will occur less often, but you will still need to return to Duke for follow-up appointments -- in most cases every six to twelve months. You can also follow up with your local cardiologist if you live far away from Duke.
Typical Follow-Up Schedule
|Time After Transplant||Frequency of Follow-Up Visits|
|Month 1||Weekly for 4 weeks|
|Month 2||Every other week|
|Months 3-6||Every month|
|Months 8-12||Every other month|
|Year 2||Every 3 months|
|Year 3 and beyond||Every 6 months|
Preventing Heart Transplant Rejection
Heart transplant surgery is performed at Duke University Hospital. Pre- and post-transplant appointments take place at our cardiology clinics in Durham.
Cardiac rehab is recommended for all heart transplant recipients beginning six to eight weeks after transplant surgery to help you build strength, improve mobility, and speed recovery. Most programs last 12 weeks and include medically supervised exercise, nutrition counseling, health education, and psychological support. Your transplant coordinator can help you locate a program at Duke or at another facility close to your home.
When it comes to your heart care, you want the very best. Duke University Hospital is proud of our team and the exceptional care they provide. They are why our cardiology and heart surgery program is nationally ranked, and the highest ranked program in North Carolina, according to U.S. News & World Report for 2020–2021.