People who have had a liver transplant are more likely to be at risk of cardiovascular disease than the general population, and have a higher predicted risk of developing coronary heart disease (CHD).
Not only will doctors have to manage these risks but they – and you – must make sure that your cardiovascular health is as good as it possibly can be to help your body cope with the stress of immunosuppression.
The factors that doctors will consider are:
- your age, sex, height and weight
- whether you smoke
- having diabetes before your transplant
- a family history of cardiovascular disease
- any medication you may be taking
CNI and steroid-based immunosuppression regimens used after transplantation can cause an increase in fluid retention and increased appetite. For this reason they are linked with the development ofhypertension and hyperlipidemia (excessive blood fats), weight gain and type 2 diabetes.
In the first months after your transplant you will be on a noadded salt diet to prevent or manage any hypertension. You will be screened yearly to make sure levels of fats known as lipids (cholesterol and triglycerides) in the blood are within the guidelines and target levels set for you.
To avoid putting on extra weight and to exercise weakened muscles following your transplant, you are encouraged to increase your activity level and do some gentle exercise, where this is possible.
Although there are no long-term dietary restrictions following liver transplant, simple rules apply: cut down on fatty foods, sugar and salt, and eat more fresh fruit and vegetables.