The University of Chicago Medicine is home to one of the most respected heart failure programs in the country. With experts in heart failure medical treatment, mechanical circulatory support and cardiac surgery, including heart transplant, we are committed to delivering the highest level of care to patients, especially those with advanced or complex disease requiring state-of-the-art therapies.
What is Heart Failure?
When your heart is healthy, it continuously pumps blood throughout the body via the circulatory system. Heart failure occurs when the heart muscle becomes damaged and is unable to deliver enough nutrient-rich blood to meet the body’s needs for oxygen. In some cases, the kidneys respond to heart failure by retaining water and, as a result, fluid builds up in the arms, legs, lungs and other organs. This condition is referred to as congestive heart failure. While there is no cure for heart failure, medications, lifestyle changes and surgical options can alleviate symptoms and help patients lead an active life.
Signs & Symptoms of Heart Failure
With more than 5 million people suffering from heart failure in the United States, it is so important to understand the causes, signs and symptoms of this condition in order to seek medical attention as soon as possible. The best defense against heart failure is to live a healthy lifestyle. But it is also critical to know when you are experiencing symptoms and to reach out to your doctor as quickly as possible. Patients with heart failure may experience:
Lack of appetite, nausea, abdominal pain
Shortness of breath, during exercise or rest
- Swelling in the feet, ankles, legs or abdomen
- Weight gain
These symptoms may be a sign of heart failure or of another medical condition. If you experience one or more of the above symptoms, see your physician for an evaluation.
Courage and Innovation 2020: Heart Transplant at UChicago Medicine
[MUSIC PLAYING] The University of Chicago Medicine is home to one of the most respected heart-failure and transplant programs in the country. We treat some of the most advanced heart conditions, and each member of the team, from greeters to surgeons, is committed to delivering compassionate and innovative care to patients and their families every step of the way.
Our heart transplant program, I would say, is uniquely positioned as perhaps the best in the world. We have a very short wait times compared to the national average. Our survival rates are some of the best in the country. The percentage of patients we get transplanted is one of the highest in the country.
And the program is designed to be comprehensive, so anyone that has a condition of heart failure, no matter what the etiology is and what the cause is, and we have people come in to be cared for no matter what.
It is a dedicated multidisciplinary team that makes this work so well-- high skill levels combined with a caring, devoted attitude from professionals committed to helping the patient heal.
I think it starts with the greeters. It's the people who come and deliver the food. I think that they really get to know the patients. And I think the patients can be here for times that are both good and bad, and I think the staff that tend to the patients every single day, have to work with the patients through those tough moments, whether they get really good news, whether they get really challenging news, and having that openness to helping the patient now.
These unsung heroes all have to work together, from the person who transports a patient to a procedure or to the operating room, and then the person who actually helps run an X-ray machine, the CT scanner. There are literally hundreds of professionals that all have to work in concert as a symphony, a very, very complicated symphony, to actually help patients, whoever receives heart transplants.
The people that do this job have a special commitment to the patients and their families.
I feel anyone who is in this role is very committed to their patient population. There are many challenges sometimes. And besides supporting the patients and the social-work department, we also support each other.
And, of course, UChicago Medicine is one of the leaders in complex multi-organ transplants. Our heart-transplant success rates are among the best in the world, and we continue to build upon our success through surgical innovation and world-class medical care.
I think the thing that makes us most different-- a lot of people do heart transplants, but there's two things. One, we take on a complexity of cases that other people don't want to take on. But we also are able to provide this therapy to relatively disadvantage populations also. And that's a matter of pride to us also, that we can provide that service.
Yeah. You're at the forefront, the forefront of medicine. It's a teaching hospital. There's research constantly going on. Things are changing for the better all the time. And we have the best nurses, the best surgeons, best doctors, best aids, transporters, everybody in the area. And proof's in the pudding.
The work is challenging, but incredibly rewarding. Many patients who previously thought they had no hope now have a new chance at life due to these unsung heroes.
I was telling someone I don't think I had one bad encounter with a health professional at U of C, whether it be a doctor-- the nurses are fantastic. And I wasn't a guest. I was a permanent resident for 110 days. I lived there. They see me at my worst, they see me at my best, they see me my grumpiest, they see me at my most disgusting. And the care was just pretty phenomenal.
To me, I think this is truly a job where-- a lot of people say they want a job that has meaning, and honestly, I don't think it gets any better than this. I've had the opportunity to actually give patients a second chance at life the whole time that I've been here. So it's a pretty amazing job.
Conditions That Cause Heart Failure
In most cases, heart failure is caused by an underlying, progressive illness. If you have a underlying condition that is not being managed, it can make weaken your heart and exacerbate heart failure. Some of the conditions associated with heart failure include:
Telemedicine at UChicago Medicine
For your convenience and safety, we offer secure and easy virtual visits for most non-urgent visit types. Our care providers can assess your symptoms, make a diagnosis, recommend treatment and send prescriptions to your pharmacy.
Whether you are facing a complex health issue or difficult treatment decision, getting a second opinion can help you make an informed decision about your care. Get an online second opinion from one of our experts without having to leave home.
Why Choose UChicago Medicine for Heart Failure
Explore below to see how we’re advancing heart failure care for adults and children. Our cardiologists, cardiac surgeons, vascular surgeons and researchers are delivering the most advanced, most personalized treatments to more of the patients who need them most.
Our world-class cardiologists and cardiovascular surgeons work alongside expert electrophysiologists, radiologists, pathologists, nurses, pharmacists and social workers to implement the ideal treatment strategy for each patient. This collaborative, multidisciplinary approach ensures that every case is thoroughly evaluated and treatment is tailored to the patient’s individual diagnosis.
A highly skilled multidisciplinary team of specialists coordinates care for our heart failure patients. These physicians, surgeons and nurses are devoted to the medical, surgical and emotional needs of patients with heart failure. This dedication makes a difference. All of our patients have access to specially trained heart failure nurses 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Research & Innovations
Our physicians are often among the first in the nation to perform innovative procedures and use new medications and devices to aid failing hearts. We are also leaders in mechanical circulatory support and heart transplantation — with many years of experience implanting ventricular assist devices as a bridge to transplant or as an alternative to transplant (destination therapy).
In a continual effort to improve the care and quality of life for heart failure patients, our physicians conduct ongoing research and investigations to find new treatment options and management strategies for this serious condition.
Heart failure is a serious and often complex condition, affecting more than 5 million Americans with 825,000 new cases diagnosed each year. Half of the heart failure patients in this country have an advanced stage of the disease. Heart failure results in more than 1 million hospitalizations monthly.
Treating Heart Failure
We understand how scary it can be if you are suffering from congestive heart failure. Our experts have the expertise and experience you need. We know that no patient is the same and there are several factors that need to be considered before creating your best treatment plan. In some cases, medication and lifestyle changes can alleviate your symptoms. In other cases, we’ll recommend surgery. The goal of medical and surgical interventions for heart failure is to slow the progression of the condition and improve your quality of life.
Advanced Care for All Patients
At UChicago Medicine, we bring the best minds in medicine together to meet the needs of patients facing heart failure. We often accept patients who were not considered for treatment at other hospitals. Our collaborative team is known for their expertise in treating unique patient populations, including:
- High-risk patients — We specialize in caring for patients with advanced heart failure, many who can benefit from the latest technology for mechanical circulatory support. Our team is experienced in transplantation for complex cases, including patients needing re-transplantation, older patients and other high-risk individuals.
- Transfusion-free surgery — Our surgeons are skilled in performing bloodless cardiac surgery to minimize blood loss — avoiding the need for transfusions. We are one of the only institutions in the world offering this surgical option.
- HIV-positive patients — Individuals who are HIV-positive are at risk for cardiac disease. UChicago Medicine heart failure physicians specialize in the care of HIV-positive patients who have developed heart failure and is dedicated to advancing treatment options for this complicated and growing patient group.
- Cancer survivors — We offer comprehensive care, including surgical, medical and mechanical circulatory support options, for patients who have developed heart disease related to chemotherapy or radiation to the chest area.
Experts at Heart Transplantation
UChicago Medicine’s acclaimed heart transplant program has some of the most experienced cardiologists and cardiac surgeons in the country. We have been offering heart transplants for decades and continue to advance our knowledge and expertise in transplantation to provide unparalleled care to our patients.
Pediatric Heart Failure
At the University of Chicago Medicine Comer Children's Hospital, we heal the smallest hearts, providing the most advanced treatment options for infants, children and teens suffering from heart failure. When your child has congestive heart failure, it means that your son or daughter's heart is not able to pump enough nutrient-rich blood to supply the them with enough oxygen. In babies and young children, this may happen when a valve defect allows too much blood to pass through the lungs, overwhelming the body. In older children and teens, heart failure often results from a weakened or damaged heart muscle. During heart failure, the heart keeps pumping, but not as efficiently.
Find a Heart Failure Location Near You
Chicago, IL 60637 1-888-824-0200
Indiana high school administrator gets a new heart through directed donation
Brian Clark struggled with congestive heart failure for more than 10 years and knew he would need a heart transplant. Two days after being listed for a new heart, he got a directed donation of a deceased relative's heart.Read more about Brian's recovery
UChicago Medicine performs historic back-to-back triple-organ transplants
Two 29-year-old patients from Michigan and Illinois received back-to-back triple-organ transplants to replace their failing hearts, livers and kidneys. This marked the first time a U.S. hospital has ever performed more than one of these complex procedures within one year, much less within 27 hours.Learn more about the historic triple-organ transplants
A heart transplant patient's journey, 'From very ill to embracing life'
In March 2016, a donor heart became available for Kay Fricke, and the transplant surgery and her recovery went smoothly. “Kay’s new heart has allowed her to do things she had never done before,” Uriel said. “Seeing her go from very ill to embracing life is, for me, the biggest joy.”Read about Kay's heart transplant journey
Request an Appointment
You can also make an appointment with our providers by:
– Scheduling a virtual video visit to see a provider from the comfort of your home
– Requesting an online second opinion from our specialists
To speak to someone directly, please call 1-888-824-0200. If you have symptoms of an urgent nature, please call your doctor or go to the emergency room immediately.
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