Purpose of review
Systemic hypertension (HTN) is a common complication arising in the heart transplant recipient. This article aims to review the most current literature and update readers on the epidemiology, pathophysiology and management of HTN in heart transplant patients.
In contrast to the general nontransplant hypertensive patient population, traditional risk factors, including family history of HTN, obesity and diabetes, play a minor role in the genesis of posttransplant HTN. Dysregulation in sodium and water balance, vascular stiffness, endothelial dysfunction, abnormal cardiorenal neural reflexes resulting from immunosuppression and cardiac denervation seem to be the predominant factors leading to postheart transplant HTN. Calcineurin inhibitors induced nephrotoxicity and steroid use further contributes to posttransplant HTN.
Owing to the paucity of data, particularly randomized controlled trials to guide the evaluation and management of HTN in the cardiac transplant patients, much of the available data come from the renal transplant population. The choice of antihypertensive should be based on timing related to transplantation and patient's comorbidities. Although calcium channel blockers and loop diuretics are the preferred agents in the early postheart transplant period, angiotensin-converting-enzyme inhibitors and angiotensin receptor blockers may be beneficial in the late postheart transplant period especially in the setting of diabetes and in the presence of proteinuria.