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Heart Failure

When you’ve been diagnosed with heart failure, you need a team of cardiologists (doctors specializing in the heart), surgeons and medical professionals with deep expertise in finding solutions. At the Washington University and Barnes-Jewish Heart & Vascular Center, our heart failure program provides advanced treatments to help you lead a longer, more active life.

We provide a level of care unmatched in the region, including performing surgeries for complex cases. Our surgical team works closely with patients and their families so they fully understand the treatment plan and know what to expect. This level of care along with our expertise leads to better outcomes for our patients.

What Is Heart Failure?

Heart failure is a serious health condition that occurs when the heart cannot pump enough blood to the rest of the body. With heart failure, the heart gradually weakens, making it unable to pump enough blood and oxygen to the organs.

Heart failure commonly develops because of an underlying condition such as coronary artery disease (the narrowing of arteries) or cardiomyopathy (enlargement or thickening of the heart muscle).

When heart failure involves the left side of the heart, it causes problems pumping blood to the rest of the body. When the right side of the heart fails, it makes it impossible for the heart to pump enough blood to the lungs. Eventually, most cases involve both sides of the heart.

You might hear the term congestive heart failure used to describe heart failure in general. However, congestive heart failure actually means that heart failure has progressed to the point where blood is backing up and causing fluid to build up in tissues.

At the Heart & Vascular Center, we perform thorough testing to confirm a heart failure diagnosis and pinpoint the cause of your specific condition. Learn more about heart failure symptoms and diagnosis.

About Our Heart Failure Program

Our specialized program is dedicated to helping people with heart failure and their families. It includes:

  • An expert team: Our cardiologists and surgeons have years of experience caring for some of the most complicated cases of heart failure. We offer the expertise and capability to perform heart transplants and surgeries for complex cases. Read more about our heart failure team
  • Advanced treatment options: Our specialized cardiologists and cardiac surgeons offer the full range of treatment options, including artificial heart devices and heart transplants. Learn more about our heart failure treatment.
  • Evidence-based medicine: We are one of only 27 centers nationwide selected by the National Institutes of Health for its Heart Failure Clinical Research Network – a group dedicated to discovering new treatment options for heart failure. Through these studies, our patients have access to new drug therapies and devices for heart failure patients. Find out more about the clinical trials offered through our partnership with the Washington University School of Medicine.

Patient-Centered Care

We understand that being diagnosed and treated for heart failure can be overwhelming. That’s why our team takes pride in being accessible to patients – from responding quickly to urgent questions to walking you to your appointment.

Another way we help you stay healthy is through our Patient Navigator program for qualifying heart failure patients who have been hospitalized. While you’re at the hospital, and shortly after you leave, a patient navigator will check in with you to ensure you’re getting the care you need.

Additionally, we keep your primary doctor informed of your medical treatment. This clear communication is particularly important for patients who travel a long distance to see our specialists. Should you need emergency care at home, we’ll keep your primary doctor informed about your heart condition.

Heart Failure Evaluation Process: What to Expect

Some patients come to the Heart & Vascular Center seeking answers about their heart health. Others come to us for specialized cardiac treatment with a referral from their primary doctor.

We offer a streamlined process, so you can get the care you need right away. Your care will depend on your individual condition, but in general, a heart failure evaluation includes:

  • Timely appointments: To help you get the care you need, when you need it, we offer timely appointments to see our specialists.
  • Rapid transfers: If you are hospitalized at another location, we can expedite your transfer so you receive an evaluation by our specialists as quickly as possible.
  • Coordinated care: Whenever possible, we try to make the most of your time by arranging appointments with multiple doctors in one visit (for example, both a cardiologist and a surgeon). This coordination can help you avoid additional visits. 
  • Consultation: A specialist will review your medical history and any tests you may have already undergone, and discuss your symptoms with you. Your doctor will also perform a physical examination and, if needed, request additional tests.
  • Treatment plans: Our specialists are exceptionally skilled in treating heart failure and can create a personalized care plan for you. Your heart failure treatment might include lifestyle changes and medications. 
  • Advanced options: If your condition is advanced, we’ll talk about your options, which might include artificial heart devices or heart transplant.

Contact Us

To make an appointment with a Washington University heart failure specialist at Barnes-Jewish Hospital, call 855.925.0631.