Expert care and advanced procedures to treat heart failure at any stage
Expert Heart & Vascular Care
Getting the care you need starts with seeing one of our heart or vascular specialists.
Heart failure occurs when your heart can’t pump enough blood for your body. Although it is a lifelong condition, treatment for heart failure can manage the symptoms and may allow your heart to gain strength.
The team in our Advanced Heart Failure Program is renowned for its innovations to improve treatment options and quality of care. Our doctors implanted the first HeartWare left ventricular assist device (LVAD) in the country and performed the first heart transplant in the District of Columbia. We continue to improve on these procedures while also aggressively pursuing even more effective therapies.
Types of heart failure treatment
The goals of heart failure treatment are to relieve symptoms and improve quality and length of life. In the earlier stages of the condition, your treatment plan may include make lifestyle changes such as:
- Eating a heart-healthy, low-salt diet
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- Quitting smoking
Medications can improve the heart’s function and your ability to live a more normal life. Medications you may be prescribed could include:
- Diuretics to reduce fluid buildup
- ACE inhibitors and angiotensin II receptor blockers (ARBs) to lower blood pressure
- Beta blockers to slow your heart rate and lower your blood pressure
- Aldosterone blockers to help prevent your body from holding onto fluids
- Hydralazine/isosorbide to relax your blood vessels
- Inotropes to increase your heart’s squeezing capacity. Only select centers like ours can send patients home on these powerful medications
More serious cases of heart failure may need advanced treatment. Your doctor may recommend one or more of the following treatment options:
- Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO): ECMO pumps your blood through a machine so your heart doesn’t have to work as hard to deliver oxygen-rich blood to the rest of the body. This therapy often is used after heart surgery or before getting a ventricular assist device to allow your heart time to rest and recover.
- Implantable devices: Devices such as implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICDs) or pacemakers may be used to regulate or start your heart using electrical pulses.
- Ventricular assist devices (VAD): Also known as mechanical circulatory support devices, VADs help pump blood from the ventricles (the main pumping chambers of your heart) to the rest of your body. The most common of these devices is the left ventricular assist device (LVAD).
- Surgery: Your doctor may recommend a coronary artery bypass surgery to restore normal blood flow in a blocked artery, heart valve surgery to repair or replace a damaged valve, or a heart transplant to replace your failing heart with a healthier one from a donor.
We’re also one of the first advanced heart failure programs to integrate palliative care along every step of treatment for a personalized and holistic team approach.
Advanced Heart Failure Patient Support
Our unique patient support program for advanced heart failure patients offers the resources you need to optimize your medical care and improve your quality of life.
Advanced heart failure is a form of heart failure that has progressed to the most serious stage.
Amyloidosis is a disease that causes an abnormal protein called amyloid to build up in vital organs, such as the heart.
Cardiomyopathy is a disease that weakens or changes the structure of your heart muscle, which makes it difficult for your heart to fill with and pump blood.
Heart failure occurs when your heart doesn’t fill with enough blood or doesn’t pump enough blood throughout your body.
Peripartum cardiomyopathy is a rare form of heart failure that can develop during or up to six months after pregnancy.
Sarcoidosis causes lumps to form in your heart, lungs or lymph nodes and can damage these organs.
An angiogram is a special X-ray taken as a special dye is injected through a thin, flexible tube called a catheter to detect blockages or aneurysms in blood vessels.
Chest X-rays use a small dose of radiation to create pictures of the structures inside the chest, including the lungs, heart and chest wall.
The cardiac computed tomography scan, or cardiac CT, uses X-rays to create three-dimensional images of your heart and blood vessels.
An echocardiogram uses high-frequency sound waves to create images of your heart.
An electrocardiogram, also known as an ECG, measures the heart’s electrical activity.
In a heart biopsy, your doctor will remove small samples of your heart muscle tissue to monitor heart function or diagnose a problem.
Magnetic resonance imaging, better known as cardiac MRI, is a combination of radio waves, magnets and computer technology to create images of your heart and blood vessels.
Stress tests are used to assess how your heart works during physical activity. There are several types of stress tests, including treadmill or bike stress tests, nuclear stress tests, stress echocardiograms and chemically induced stress tests.