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Chronic digitalis therapy in patients before heart transplantation is an independent risk factor for increased posttransplant mortality

Authors Rivinius R, Helmschrott M, Ruhparwar A, Rahm AK, Darche FF, Thomas D, Bruckner T, Ehlermann P, Katus HA, Doesch AO

Received 23 July 2017

Accepted for publication 29 August 2017

Published 13 October 2017 Volume 2017:13 Pages 1399—1407

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/TCRM.S147062

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewers approved by Dr Hoa Le

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Professor Garry Walsh


Rasmus Rivinius,1 Matthias Helmschrott,1 Arjang Ruhparwar,2 Ann-Kathrin Rahm,1,3 Fabrice F Darche,1 Dierk Thomas,1 Tom Bruckner,4 Philipp Ehlermann,1 Hugo A Katus,1 Andreas O Doesch1,5

1Department of Cardiology, Angiology and Pneumology, Heidelberg University Hospital, Heidelberg, 2Department of Cardiac Surgery, Heidelberg University Hospital, Heidelberg, 3Faculty of Medicine, University of Heidelberg, Heidelberg, 4Institute for Medical Biometry and Informatics, University of Heidelberg, Heidelberg, 5Asklepios Klinik Bad Salzungen GmbH, Department of Pneumology and Oncology, Bad Salzungen, Germany

Objectives: Digitalis therapy (digoxin or digitoxin) in patients with heart failure is subject to an ongoing debate. Recent data suggest an increased mortality in patients receiving digitalis. This study investigated the effects of chronic digitalis therapy prior to heart transplantation (HTX) on posttransplant outcomes.
Patients and methods: This was a retrospective, observational, single-center study. It comprised 530 adult patients who were heart-transplanted at Heidelberg University Hospital between 1989 and 2012. Patients with digitalis prior to HTX (≥3 months) were compared to those without (no or <3 months of digitalis). Patients with digitalis were further subdivided into patients receiving digoxin or digitoxin. Primary outcomes were early posttransplant atrial fibrillation and mortality.
Results: A total of 347 patients (65.5%) had digitalis before HTX. Of these, 180 received digoxin (51.9%) and 167 received digitoxin (48.1%). Patients with digitalis before HTX had a significantly lower 30-day (P=0.0148) and 2-year (P=0.0473) survival. There was no significant difference between digoxin and digitoxin in 30-day (P=0.9466) or 2-year (P=0.0723) survival. Multivariate analysis for posttransplant 30-day mortality showed pretransplant digitalis therapy as an independent risk factor (hazard ratio =2.097, CI: 1.036–4.248, P=0.0397). Regarding atrial fibrillation in the early posttransplant period, there was neither a statistically significant difference between patients with and without digitalis (P=0.1327) nor between patients with digoxin or digitoxin (P=0.5867).
Conclusion: Digitalis in patients before HTX is an independent risk factor for increased posttransplant mortality.

Keywords: atrial fibrillation, digitalis, heart transplantation, mortality

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