Heart Failure Center

Heart failure affects over 5.7 million individuals in the United States with over half a million new cases diagnosed yearly.

Experts at the Pat and Jim Calhoun Cardiology Center are dedicated to every aspect of the diagnosis and treatment of heart failure. Our services range from cutting-edge technologies such as cardiac MRI, bypass surgery, angioplasty, implantable cardiac defibrillators, cardiac resynchronization therapy, and application of the latest research advances to one-on-one patient and family education by our physicians and skilled nurse practitioners.

The Heart Failure Center, part of the Calhoun Cardiology Center has been nationally recognized by the American Heart Association for its high quality care. Additionally the John Dempsey Hospital consistently scores in the top tier of institutions nationwide for heart failure core measures, an assessment of overall hospital quality for heart failure.

What Is Heart Failure?

Heart failure is a condition in which the heart can’t pump enough blood to meet the body’s needs. In some cases, the heart can’t fill with enough blood. In other cases, the heart can’t pump blood to the rest of the body with enough force. Some people have both problems.

The term "heart failure" doesn’t mean that your heart has stopped or is about to stop working. However, heart failure is a serious condition that requires medical care.

Heart failure develops over time as the heart’s pumping action grows weaker. The condition can affect the right side of the heart only, or it can affect both sides of the heart. Most cases involve both sides of the heart.

Right-side heart failure occurs if the heart can’t pump enough blood to the lungs to pick up oxygen. Left-side heart failure occurs if the heart can’t pump enough oxygen-rich blood to the rest of the body.

Right-side heart failure may cause fluid to build up in the feet, ankles, legs, liver, abdomen, and the veins in the neck. Right-side and left-side heart failure also may cause shortness of breath and fatigue (tiredness).

The leading causes of heart failure are diseases that damage the heart. These include coronary heart disease (CHD), also called coronary artery disease; high blood pressure; and diabetes.

Treatment and Outpatient Care at the Pat and Jim Calhoun Cardiology Center

Patients diagnosed with heart failure do best when closely monitored by a team of doctors and nurses with a specialized focus on their condition. The Heart Failure Center has been treating patients for over 20 years. Our program prides itself on accessibility. Patients with new or worsening symptoms of heart failure can be seen within hours of contacting us. This frequently eliminates the need for emergency room care.

The Heart Failure Center provides every heart failure patient with the latest therapies for their condition including:

  • Cardiac stents
  • Implantable cardiac defibrillators (ICDs)
  • Bi-ventricular pacemakers
  • Wide range of medications including the availability of outpatient intravenous medications

Because the Heart Failure Center is part of a university hospital, patients also have access to the latest heart failure clinical trials.

Inpatient Care for Heart Failure

At John Dempsey Hospital, the most advanced cardiac tools are used to assess patients with heart failure including:

  • Echocardiograms
  • Cardiac CT scans
  • Cardiac magnetic resonance images (MRIs)
  • Coronary angiography
  • Coronary angioplasty and stenting
  • Open heart surgery

Heart failure experts provide a personalized care plan based on a careful assessment of a patient’s condition and needs. Additionally comprehensive education is provided by nurse practitioners and staff nurses who have extensive experience and training in heart failure education.

Hospital to Home

At John Dempsey Hospital, care does not end upon discharge. The Heart Failure Center is committed to helping patients transition safely back to their homes. After heart failure patients leave the hospital, we provide 24/7 access via telephone to our cardiac nurses and cardiologists. Also, every heart failure patient is scheduled for a follow-up visit with a physician or heart failure nurse practitioner within seven days after discharge. Studies suggest that a seven day evaluation helps keep patients at home and out of the hospital. The Heart Failure Center considers this as an extension of the hospital treatment and a key component for caring of heart failure patients. At the follow-up visit, critical healthy-living concepts are reviewed such as weight monitoring and salt avoidance. This is also crucial time for re-evaluating and monitoring for side effects of new medications.