Heart & lung : the journal of critical care vol:27 issue:5 pages:315-25
OBJECTIVE: To evaluate symptom experience related to side effects of immunosuppressive therapy in heart transplant recipients. METHODS: This descriptive, cross-sectional study included 105 heart transplant recipients (90 men; 15 women) with a median age of 56 years. Maintenance immunosuppression consisted of triple therapy (cyclosporine, corticosteroids, azathioprine). Symptom frequency and symptom distress were assessed by an adapted version of the Transplant Symptom Frequency and Symptom Distress Scale, which includes 27 symptoms associated with side effects of immunosuppressive therapy. RESULTS: The most frequent symptom for both sexes was increased hair growth. Impotence and painful menstruation were experienced as the most distressing symptoms for men and women, respectively. Women reported a significantly higher level of symptom experience. The majority of the most frequent and most distressing symptoms were corticosteroid associated. CONCLUSIONS: Patients' perception of side effects completes the symptomatologic profile of immunosuppressive therapy. A gender-specific evaluation is indicated because symptom experience differs between the sexes.