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Heart Failure and Transplantation

With heart failure, it can be hard to keep up with your daily activities if you feel tired and out of breath. At the Washington University and Barnes-Jewish Heart & Vascular Center, our heart failure team can help. We offer all available treatments for heart failure and the conditions that cause it.

We provide high-quality care, including heart surgeries for complex cases. Our surgeons and their teams take a compassionate approach to help you understand heart failure and what to expect from treatment.

What Is Heart Failure?

Heart failure develops when your heart can no longer pump enough blood to the body. It usually results from other types of heart disease and health conditions that weaken and damage the heart. Heart failure doesn’t mean that your heart has stopped working, but the condition gradually worsens and can lead to serious complications.

Often, healthy lifestyle habits and medications can manage symptoms of heart failure, especially in the early stages. If heart failure becomes severe, these treatments may no longer help. At that point, you may need heart surgery or other treatments for heart failure complications. Learn more about the symptoms and causes of heart failure, and find out about our cardiac surgery options.

Heart Failure and Transplantation: Why Choose Barnes-Jewish Hospital?

Other doctors often refer their patients to us because they have confidence in our ability to handle even the most complex cases. We offer:

  • Experts in heart transplants: Our cross-disciplinary team brings together expertise from several fields of cardiovascular medicine. With years of specialized experience, we treat people with end-stage (advanced) heart failure. Our heart surgeons have performed more than 1,000 transplants since the program began in 1985, with survival rates that surpass national statistics.
  • National and international leaders: Our heart team has received a national ranking for cardiology and heart surgery from U.S.News & World Report. We are the only center with the expertise to perform heart transplants within several hundred miles of St. Louis.
  • Groundbreaking heart research: Through our research, you have access to new devices, medications and other treatments for heart failure. We are one of a few centers nationwide chosen by the National Institutes of Health for its Heart Failure Clinical Research Network. Learn more about our innovation in cardiovascular disease and clinical trials available through our partnership with the Washington University School of Medicine.

Heart Transplant for Heart Failure

Our cardiac surgeons, transplant surgeons and their teams have years of experience in heart transplants and other surgeries for end-stage heart failure. Depending on your specific needs, your surgical options may include: 

  • Left ventricular assist devices (LVADs): LVADs are implantable mechanical pumps that help the heart’s ventricles (lower chambers) pump blood. We perform open-heart surgery to connect the device to your heart. LVADs can provide a permanent solution to heart failure, or they can serve as a bridge to heart transplant. As a bridge, an LVAD helps your heart pump better to provide enough blood to the body while you wait for a heart transplant.
  • Heart transplant: For certain cases of end-stage (very advanced) heart failure, we perform heart transplants. This lifesaving operation replaces a diseased heart with a healthy heart from a deceased donor. A heart transplant may not be the right treatment for everyone. Our heart failure team works together to evaluate you and determine whether a transplant can help.

Our Heart Failure and Transplant Team

Our heart failure and transplant team includes: 

  • cardiologists, doctors who diagnose and treat heart conditions that lead to heart failure
  • cardiothoracic surgeons who specialize in surgeries to implant mechanical heart devices and provide heart transplants
  • electrophysiologists, cardiologists who diagnose and treat heart rhythm disorders (arrhythmias)
  • interventional cardiologists who perform minimally invasive procedures using catheters to treat underlying causes of heart failure
  • specialized nurses with advanced training and experience in cardiac care and STEMI certification to provide specialty care for people who have had a heart attack
  • other providers such as social workers, dietitians and physical therapists who provide supportive services and treatment

Contact Us

To make an appointment with a Washington University heart failure specialist at Barnes-Jewish Hospital, call 888-230-8832.