Orthotopic heart transplantation (HTX) is nowadays the worldwide accepted gold standard for the treatment of terminal heart failure. The main indications for HTX are non-ischemic dilatative (54%) and ischemic (37%) heart failure. In the acute phase after HTX the survival rate is approximately 90%. Good short and long-term results with survival rates ranging from 81% after 1 year to more than 50% after 11 years demonstrate that there is currently no real treatment alternative to HTX for treatment of end-stage heart failure. In the case of irreversible pulmonary hypertension in combination with end-stage heart failure or complex congenital heart syndromes, a combined heart and lung transplantation (HLTX) is necessary. Compared with HTX the short-term survival of HLTX is reduced, mostly for technical reasons. Improved long-term results after HTX and HLTX are a result of highly specialized transplantation units and effective immunosuppression. However, a major problem is the shortage of organ donors in Germany and the resulting long waiting times for patients with frequently occurring blood groups of up to 10 months for transplantation. The consequence of the latter is the ever increasing number of implanted cardiac assist devices in patients not only as a bridge to transplant but also as destination therapy.
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