Patients on the waiting list for a donor heart get ongoing treatment for heart failure and other medical conditions.

For example, doctors may treat them for arrhythmias (irregular heartbeats). Arrhythmias can cause sudden cardiac arrest in people who have heart failure.

The doctors at the transplant centres may place implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICDs) in patients before surgery. ICDs are small devices that are placed in the chest or abdomen. They help control life-threatening arrhythmias.

Another possible treatment for waiting list patients is a ventricular assist device (VAD). A VAD is a mechanical pump that helps support heart function and blood flow.
Routine outpatient care for waiting list patients may include frequent exercise testing, testing the strength of the heartbeat, and right cardiac catheterization (a test to measure blood pressure in the right side of the heart).

You also might start a cardiac rehabilitation (rehab) program. Cardiac rehab is a medically supervised program that helps improve the health and well-being of people who have heart problems.

The program can help improve your physical condition before the transplant. Also, you will learn the types of exercises used in the program, which will help you take part in cardiac rehab after the transplant.


It is important that you make sure you understand the exact dose and timing of each medication from your doctor when he/she prescribes it.

If you go to different doctors for different conditions, it is extremely important to tell all of them about each medication you are taking. It may help to carry a list with you at all times.
Write your daily schedule for medications on a calendar or chart. Be sure to update the schedule each time your medication changes.

Follow the schedule exactly, and take the exact amount prescribed by your doctor.
Keep medications in their original containers. The labels contain important information such as medication name, amount, doctor’s name, and expiration dates.

Do not take medication in the dark, when you are tired, or when you are distracted. You might take the wrong medication or too much.

Alcohol can interact with many different kinds of medicines. Talk with your doctor or pharmacist whether it is safe to drink alcohol with any prescription.

When children or grandchildren are around, keep medication containers out of reach.
Never take a medication that was prescribed for someone else.

If your doctor has told you to discontinue a medication, dispose of it immediately. Do not keep it for future needs.

Dispose of a medication once the expiration date has passed.

Never stop taking a medication on your own decision- always get your doctor’s assistance. Some medications must be stopped gradually to avoid complications.

If the medication is making you feel sick or causing side effects that you find difficult to tolerate, talk to your doctor about adjusting the dose or changing the medication.