Heart Failure

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 include cutting-edge technologies such as cardiac MRI, bypass surgery, angioplasty, and implantable cardiac defibrillators. We also utilize the latest research advances in one-on-one patient and family education by our physicians and skilled nurse practitioners.

Patients diagnosed with heart failure do best when closely monitored by a team of doctors and nurses with a specialized focus on their condition. Our program prides itself on accessibility, and 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.

Our 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 UConn 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.


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.

Conditions and Symptoms

Our specialists are highly trained in the many conditions associated with heart failure, such as inherited cardiomyopathies and amyloid heart disease. With inherited cardiomyopathies, our cardiologists work in collaboration with cardiac genetics and arrhythmia services to identify and treat familial causes of heart disease. In the case of amyloid heart disease, we offer genetic typing and access to neurologists who specialize in amyloid involvement of the nerves. If indicated, we offer evaluation for candidacy and administration of medications for amyloid disease.

Despite the different causes and conditions of heart failure, the symptoms often include:

  • 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 tiredness.


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
  • Cardiomems Program: implantation of pressure monitoring device which is accessed remotely to improve management of fluid levels and decrease the number of hospital stays
  • Guideline Directed Medical Therapy Clinic: close follow-up with our nurse practitionerswho specialize in heart failure to facilitate getting patients on appropriate medical therapy for heart failure at goal doses
  • A wide range of medications including the availability of outpatient intravenous medications
  • Outpatient intravenous diuretic and inotrope administration
  • Evaluation and referral for advanced heart failure therapies

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

Inpatient Care

At UConn 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 UConn John Dempsey Hospital, care does not end upon discharge. We are 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 to minimize the risk of hospital readmission. This is an extension of the hospital treatment and a key component of caring for heart failure patients. At the follow-up visit, critical healthy-living concepts are reviewed such as weight monitoring and salt avoidance. This is also a crucial time for re-evaluating and monitoring for side effects of new medications.

Power of Possible

Learn how the Pat and Jim Calhoun Cardiology Center helped to manage Andrew’s heart condition and how they’re working to help others struggling with debilitating heart failure symptoms. In this segment, Dr. Christopher Pickett discusses heart failure and ways to manage heart health.

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