Heart failure is a condition in which the heart’s ability to pump blood is diminished, resulting in inadequate circulation of blood around the body. Eventually, heart failure leads to the failure of other vital organs, which are lacking the blood they need to function properly.
One of the most challenging aspects of heart disease is its progressive nature. People with early-stage heart disease may do well on minimal treatment for a long time, until they experience more serious symptoms—including heart failure. This is why it is essential that those with heart disease receive consistent care and screenings, to minimize long-term damage and the chance of developing heart failure.
Diagnosing and Treating Heart Failure
At Northwestern Memorial’s Center for Heart Failure at the Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute, we use an integrated and collaborative approach to treating heart failure. As a team, our cardiologists, cardiac surgeons and nurses work to diagnose heart failure, determine the stage of the disease, and plan the best course of treatment.
We employ a wide array of comprehensive therapies for heart failure, including:
When it comes to screening for assistive devices or transplantation, the team takes a multidisciplinary approach to ensure all avenues are explored and the patient is a good candidate for surgery.
Team Approach to Treating Heart Failure
Heart failure is a debilitating disease requiring comprehensive management, including carefully chosen medications, prudent surgical intervention and appropriate cardiac rehabilitation. The Center for Heart Failure's outstanding multidisciplinary team, including cardiologists, surgeons and nurses, work together to ensure a tailored, individualized plan of care for each heart failure patient.
The Center for Heart Failure is led by Allen S. Anderson, MD, and Edwin C. McGee, MD. Dr. Anderson is a cardiologist, medical director of the Center for Heart Failure and medical director of Heart Transplantation and Mechanical Assistance. He is responsible for pre- and post-operative patient management both in the hospital and at home. Dr. McGee is a cardiothoracic surgeon, surgical director of the Center for Heart Failure and surgical director of Heart Transplantation and Mechanical Assistance. Dr. McGee has extensive experience in both ventricular assist devices and heart transplantation, and also is responsible for post-operative patient management.
Patients may hear the phrase “heart failure” and believe they can’t get better. We disagree. We use evidence-based medicine and follow guidelines prescribed by the American Heart Association. And our highly skilled team works with referring physicians and other experts to ensure that patients have the best outcomes possible—even those patients with truly unique cases.
Cardiac treatment is most successful when it focuses on the physical, emotional and behavioral health of the patient. Northwestern's Cardiac Behavioral Medicine service was created with the understanding that the mind and body (the heart, in particular) influence each other.