ISHLT Issues Updated Candidacy Criteria for Heart Transplantation

Experts Publish Guidelines in The Journal of Heart and Lung Transplantation

New York, NY, January 7, 2016

To determine patient eligibility for heart transplant, the International Society for Heart Lung Transplantation (ISHLT) maintains a list of criteria, first issued in 2006, that acts as a guideline for physicians. A major 10-year update has now been issued and published in The Journal of Heart and Lung Transplantation, which is freely available at

“The 2016 ISHLT Listing Criteria for Heart Transplantation: A 10-Year Update,” focuses on evolving areas of importance not fully addressed previously, including infectious diseases such as the candidate with HIV and hepatitis, congenital heart disease, and restrictive cardiomyopathies. In addition, all of the original 2006 guidelines have been updated to incorporate newly available information and instances in which evolution in clinical practice demanded significant changes. For practitioners, the update includes 145 references to the recent literature concerning heart transplantation.

This multi-disciplinary effort between the ISHLT Heart Failure and Transplantation, Pediatric and Infectious Disease Councils included 15 task force members from eight nations, and was chaired by Mandeep R. Mehra, MD, Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School and Medical Director, Heart and Vascular Center, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston MA, and Editor-in-Chief of The Journal of Heart and Lung Transplantation.

“There are many controversial issues in the guidelines that we have tackled head on including heart transplantation in previously denied conditions (HIV, hepatitis amyloidosis, certain congenital heart diseases) that we now allow or recommend more lenient listing,” noted Dr. Mehra. “The 2006 guidelines were particularly important in that we recommended against an age limit for transplantation or time dependency for patients with previously healed cancers (e.g. waiting a minimum of five years for freedom from cancers). The new guidelines not only update several of these prior issues, but also tackle the most controversial topics of our times.”

Notable changes to the 2006 guidelines include:

  • For overweight patients with heart failure, the criteria now stipulate that physicians should recommend a weight loss program to reduce body mass index (BMI) to less than 35, rather than the previous target of 30. This somewhat relaxed goal was changed in response to new evidence-based information and may result in more patients qualifying for transplantation.
  • Because new evidence has questioned the predictive accuracy of the Heart Failure Survival Score (HFSS), the ISHLT now recommends that listing patients solely on HFSS criteria should occur, only in situations of indeterminate prognosis.
  • Right heart catheterization (RHC) is recommended for all adult candidates in preparation for listing for cardiac transplantation and periodically up to the date of transplantation. The committee now agrees that this periodic RHC is not advocated for routine surveillance in children.
  • Use of mechanical circulatory support should be considered for patients with potentially reversible or treatable co-morbidities such as cancer, obesity, renal failure, tobacco use and pharmacologically irreversible pulmonary hypertension with subsequent re-evaluation to establish candidacy.
  • Any patient for whom social supports are deemed insufficient to achieve compliant care in the outpatient setting may be regarded as having a relative contraindication to transplant.  The benefit of heart transplantation in patients with severe cognitive-behavioral disabilities or dementia (e.g. self-injurious behavior, inability to ever understand and cooperate with medical care) has not been established, has the potential for harm and therefore heart transplantation cannot be recommended for this subgroup of patients.
  • Patients with HIV infection, hepatitis, Chagas disease, or even tuberculosis can now be considered as suitable candidates provided certain strict management principles are adhered to by the teams.


Notes for Editors
“The 2016 ISHLT Listing Criteria for Heart Transplantation: A 10-Year Update” by Mandeep R. Mehra, MD (Chair), Charles E. Canter, MD, Margaret M. Hannan, MD, Marc J. Semigran, MD, Patricia A. Uber, PharmD, David A. Baran, MD, Lara Danziger-Isakov, MD, MPH, James K. Kirklin, MD, Richard Kirk, MD, Sudhir S. Kushwaha, MD, Lars H. Lund, MD, PhD, Luciano Potena, MD, PhD, Heather J. Ross, MD, David O. Taylor, MD, Erik A.M. Verschuuren, MD, PhD, and Andreas Zuckerman, MD. On behalf of the International Society for Heart Lung Transplantation (ISHLT) Infectious Diseases, Pediatric and Heart Failure and Transplantation Councils. The Journal of Heart and Lung Transplantation, Volume 35, Issue 1 (January 2016), published by Elsevier (DOI: 10.1016/j.healun.2015.10.023). The online version, including supplementary data, is freely available at

To obtain additional information from the ISHLT regarding this publication, or to arrange an interview with the authors contact Mandeep R. Mehra, MD, at +1 617 732 8534 or

About The Journal of Heart and Lung Transplantation 
A forum that includes all aspects of pre-clinical and clinical science of the failing heart and lung

The Official Publication of the International Society for Heart and Lung Transplantation, The Journal of Heart and Lung Transplantation brings readers essential scholarly and timely information in the field of cardiopulmonary transplantation, mechanical and biological support of the failing heart, advanced lung disease (including pulmonary vascular disease), and cell replacement therapy. Importantly, the journal also serves as a medium of communication of pre-clinical sciences in all these rapidly expanding areas.

With an Impact Factor of 6.650,The Journal of Heart and Lung Transplantation is ranked 1st of 25 journals in the Transplantation category, 9th of 123 journals in the Cardiac and Cardiovascular Systems category, and 6th of 57 journals in the Respiratory System category in the 2014 Journal Citation Reports®, published by Thomson Reuters.

About the International Society for Heart and Lung Transplantation (ISHLT)
The International Society for Heart and Lung Transplantation is a multidisciplinary, professional organization dedicated to improving the care of patients with advanced heart or lung disease through transplantation, mechanical support, and innovative therapies via research, education, and advocacy. ISHLT was created in 1981 at a small gathering of about 15 cardiologists and cardiac surgeons. Today, ISHLT has over 3000 members from over 45 countries, representing over 15 different disciplines involved in the management and treatment of end-state heart and lung disease. This multinational, multidisciplinary mix is one of the biggest strengths of the Society. It brings greater breadth and depth to ISHLT's educational offerings and provides an exceptional environment for networking and exchanging information on an informal basis.

About Elsevier
Elsevier is a global information analytics business that helps scientists and clinicians to find new answers, reshape human knowledge, and tackle the most urgent human crises. For 140 years, we have partnered with the research world to curate and verify scientific knowledge. Today, we’re committed to bringing that rigor to a new generation of platforms. Elsevier provides digital solutions and tools in the areas of strategic research management, R&D performance, clinical decision support, and professional education; including ScienceDirect, Scopus, SciVal, ClinicalKey and Sherpath. Elsevier publishes over 2,500 digitized journals, including The Lancet and Cell, 39,000 e-book titles and many iconic reference works, including Gray's Anatomy. Elsevier is part of RELX, a global provider of information-based analytics and decision tools for professional and business customers.

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