Coronary artery disease

One possible long-term problem of a heart transplant is coronary artery disease. This means that the arteries that supply oxygen to your heart can become narrowed. You may hear members of your health care team call this CAD.

Usually, the lack of blood supply causes chest pain (angina). However, your new heart may have no nerve connections that would carry the pain signal to your brain.

The cause of coronary artery disease is unknown. It is widely believed to be caused by an immune system process, often called "chronic rejection."

Other known risk factors are high cholesterol, diabetes and high blood pressure.

How to prevent coronary artery disease

  • Live a heart-healthy lifestyle.
    • Eat healthful foods.
    • Get regular exercise.
    • Avoid tobacco use.
  • Maintain normal cholesterol levels.
  • Maintain a healthy blood pressure.
  • Take a small dose of aspirin every day. Follow your doctor's directions.
  • You may need to take other medicines to keep your arteries from getting too narrow.

Source: Allina Health's Patient Education Department, Care After Heart Transplant, cvs-ah-95405 (1/18)
First Published: 01/06/2013
Last Reviewed: 01/19/2018