Advanced Heart Failure and Transplant Surgery

Congestive Heart Failure on the Rise

St.Vincent Heart patient and family member talks to the Heart Failure specialist about all of the treatment options. No question is too significant.

St.Vincent Heart patient and family member talks to the Heart Failure specialist about all of the treatment options. No question is too significant.

St.Vincent Heart Center’s approach to treating heart failure is a team approach by the heart surgeons and congestive heart failure (CHF) specialists. Unfortunately, the incidence of congestive heart failure is on the rise. Being diagnosed with congestive heart failure sounds bad, but CHF specialists say there are several stages of CHF and the goal is to catch it early if possible, treat CHF effectively and help patients regain a healthier lifestyle.

Congestive heart failure is a progressive disease. Severity varies greatly from one patient to another and often diagnosing the stage or category of heart failure is difficult. St.Vincent Heart Center has a broad range of expertise and many advanced diagnostic tools that aid in the interpretation of heart failure. By quantifying heart function with nuclear cardiac heart studies for example CHF specialists can better identify medications and medical devices which may stop the progress of the disease and even restore heart function.

For severely advanced heart failure, heart transplantation is the only option. To ensure that these patients are receiving the highest standard of care, St.Vincent Heart Center has developed the CHF/Transplant/VAD Center of Excellence.

What to Expect at your Heart Center Appointment with CHF Specialists

Our CHF specialists understand your urgency. We offer expedited appointments which means you are not on a waiting list to see a CHF specialist. At your appointment you can expect:

  1. One or more diagnostic tests will be performed
    • EKG to measure electrical activity of the heart
    • Nuclear imaging heart scan to evaluate blood flow to the heart
    • Echocardiogram using ultrasound technology to scan and detect heart damage
    • Cardiac catherization to identify blockages in coronary arteries; if detected those blockages can be immediately treated with angioplasty.
  2. Patient examination and consultation with CFH specialists
  3. After all examinations and testing, results are analyzed by the CHF team and a personalized treatment plan is discussed with patient.

These activities may span more than one day. The Care Coordinator can help make travel arrangements and accommodations for you and your family. For more information see Patient and Visitor Services.

Overview of Treatments

Medication therapy and lifestyle modification is typically a first line treatment. Since CHF is progressive, don’t wait months, even a year to get a second opinion if the medication seems to affect no change.

St.Vincent Advanced Heart Failure specialists can help you explore all approved and investigational treatment options. When heart surgery is advised, the St.Vincent Heart Center has a full range of surgical options. The 2014 Promise and Performance Report indicates these heart surgeons have a higher performance rating and better outcomes than the national average.

Other minimally invasive surgery options may include:

  • Angioplasty or balloon angioplasty
  • Coronary artery bypass graft surgery (CABG)

Implanted Mechanical Assist Devices

The technology advancement in these devices are very high-tech, now wireless, smaller and able to remotely send heart function data to the CHF team. The total artificial heart device that we use is unique to the St.Vincent Heart Center. The CHF team is involved in several clinical studies, evaluating devices that may more effectively bridge to transplant. Other studies involve other heart failure interventions, as well as, specifically left ventricular devices.

Left, right and biventricular assist devices (VAD) are mechanical pumps that help your heart recover from a weakened state. In the case of an impending heart transplant, VAD also helps you keep your heart until a donor heart is available.

The St.Vincent Heart Center VAD surgeons also support high risk cardiac surgery and are ready to install LVAD if needed.

Heart Transplantation Leadership

As the largest heart transplant program in Indiana, St.Vincent has a long history (25+ years) of performing heart transplant surgery with the most advanced surgical procedures and technology.

  • American Heart Association, 2014 Silver Plus Status for Heart Failure
  • Becker’s Hospital Review, 2014 “100 Hospitals with Great Heart Programs”

The entire surgery is orchestrated to the minute and the Transplant Team is well rehearsed for each transplant operation. St.Vincent Heart Center has developed a successful post-surgery program that gives our patients lots of support to recovery day by day.

Today, we are seeing more heart and kidney transplant cases because when heart failure occurs, other vital organs are also severely impacted. For this reason our cardiologists also work closely with nephrologists for a total care plan.

Ongoing Care and Support

We treat the body, mind and spirit and that often has a special meaning for advanced heart failure patients and heart transplant patients. From the heart surgeons and cardiologists, to the nurse educations, dietitians, social workers and pastoral staff, we’re all here to help coordinate your care. Communication is vital, especially with your hometown primary care physician and caregiving support group. All of these efforts go a long way towards ensuring that you’ll be feeling better soon.

The St.Vincent CHF/Transplant/VAD Center of Excellence is a member of Mechanical Circulatory Research Network represented by five large VAD centers including the Mayo Clinic, Vanderbilt University, Innova, and University of Michigan. This network collaborates on standards of care to improving patient outcomes.

At St.Vincent Heart Center the CHF/Transplant team has dedicated nurses available 8am-5pm to take calls from patients to educate you about the steps along this journey and provide ongoing care and support. Patients enrolled in the St.Vincent Heart Failure Program are given a Heart Failure hotline number. We also work closely to coordinate care with St.Vincent Regional facilities so that follow-up care can happen closer to home yet the CHF team is coordinating care throughout the treatment and recovery process.

VAD/Transplant Support Group

Our VAD & Transplant support group meets once a month at our St.Vincent Heart Center 86th Street location. These meetings are open to patients and family members. These meetings are about finding things that bring joy while living on a VAD and getting past stress and fear factors like returning to work. We’ll go hand-in-hand if that helps our patients feel more comfortable and confident.

Next Steps

Congestive Heart Failure (CHF) Support Groups

Date: 1st Tuesday of the month

Time: 10:30 a.m. – noon

Indiana Heart Institute Boardroom
8333 Naab Road, 3rd Floor
Indianapolis, IN 46260

Additional information: