Heart transplants: Medications

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After a heart transplant, your child will need a variety of medications, including immunosuppressants, drugs to prevent infection, and drugs to lower blood pressure.

Key points

  • Your child must take immunosuppressants for the rest of their life to prevent and treat rejection.
  • Your child will take medicines to prevent infection as immunosuppressants increase their risk of contracting infection.
  • Since immunosuppressants can cause high blood pressure, most children will be on blood pressure medication for the first 6 months after transplant.

Your child will need a variety of different medications after a heart transplant. They can be grouped in the following categories:


Your child will need to take immunosuppressants for the rest of his life. These drugs are used to prevent and treat rejection. Immunosuppressants include the following:

Medications to prevent infection

Heart transplants and immunosuppressants can make your child more likely to develop some infections. Your child may be prescribed one or more of the following medications to prevent infection:

  • nystatin, which helps prevent an infection in the mouth called thrush
  • cotrimoxazole​, which helps prevent a lung infection called pneumocystis carinii pneumonia (PCP)
  • ganciclovir or cytogam, which help prevent and treat viral infections such as cytomegalovirus (CMV) and Epstein-Barr virus (EBV)
  • acyclovir, which helps prevent and treat viral infections such as chickenpox, shingles, herpes simplex, and CMV
  • valganciclovir, which helps prevent and treat CMV

Blood pressure medications

Immunosuppressants can cause high blood pressure as a side effect. Most children will be on medication to control their blood pressure for the first six months after transplant. These medications may include the following:

Magnesium supplements

Immunosuppressants can lower the level of magnesium in your child's blood. Magnesium supplements replace the lost magnesium​.


Ranitidine​ helps to prevent your child from getting an upset stomach when they are taking high doses of immunosuppressants.

Last updated: December 11th 2009