Heart Failure

Heart failure is a serious health condition that occurs when the heart cannot pump enough blood to the rest of the body. Our heart team is equipped with the most advanced treatment options available, including heart pumps and heart transplant.

When you or a loved one is diagnosed with heart failure, we work with you to develop an effective treatment plan to meet your unique needs. At the Washington University and Barnes-Jewish Transplant Center, our goal is to provide you with the most comprehensive, personalized care possible.

What is Heart Failure?

Heart failure is commonly caused by an underlying condition such as coronary artery disease and cardiomyopathy (disease of the heart muscle). The diseased heart weakens, making it unable to pump enough blood and oxygen to the organs. When this happens, you need the expert care of experienced heart doctors and surgeons to help the heart function properly.

  • Heart failure is one of the major reasons people over the age of 65 are hospitalized, but it can occur in people of any age.
  • When heart failure involves the left side of the heart, it causes problems pumping blood to the rest of the body.
  • In some cases, the right side of the heart fails, making it impossible for the heart to pump enough blood to the lungs.
  • Most cases involve both sides of the heart.

Find out more about conditions leading to heart transplant.

Symptoms of Heart Failure

As a result of heart failure, the body doesn’t get enough oxygen. People with heart failure may experience signs and symptoms including:

  • Shortness of breath, especially when lying down
  • Feeling tired or run down
  • Being unable to catch your breath when exercising
  • Coughing or wheezing, especially when you exercise or lie down
  • Swollen ankles or feet
  • Confusion or feeling unable to think clearly
  • Weight gain from retained fluid

Causes of Heart Failure

The primary causes of heart failure are diseases that damage the heart. These include high blood pressure, coronary artery disease and diabetes. By monitoring and managing these conditions, many people adequately manage their heart failure for many years.

Other conditions can cause heart failure. These conditions may include:

  • Arrhythmia, which is the heart falling out of rhythm
  • Congenital heart defects or congenital heart disease (disease that you are born with)
  • Cardiomyopathy, when the heart muscle becomes enlarged or thick
  • Heart valve disease, where the valves of the heart do not work correctly, either from birth or due to disease
  • Diseases or medications that damage the heart

Learn more about heart transplant options.

Heart Failure Treatments

Sometimes, doctors are able to treat heart failure by treating the underlying condition. But, when symptoms worsen, lifestyle changes and medications may not be enough.

If you need more advanced care, our transplant team offers effective treatment options including:

  • Mechanical devices to regulate heart rhythm: These may include devices such as a pacemaker or implantable defibrillator.
  • Left ventricular assist devices: Some people benefit from medical devices that help the heart to pump blood. Most often, these are left ventricular assist devices (LVADs).
  • Heart transplant: In very advanced cases, physicians may consider a patient to be a candidate for a heart transplant. This life-saving operation replaces a person’s diseased heart with a healthy heart from a donor.

Read more about the heart transplant process.

Contact Us

For more information about the heart transplant program at the Washington University and Barnes-Jewish Transplant Center, call [Dynamic_Phone_Number].

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