Heart failure — although it sounds frightening — doesn't mean your heart has stopped working. It is a treatable condition. It means your heart doesn't work as well as it should.
In heart failure, you may experience difficulty pumping blood because the heart is too weak or too stiff, and the heart, organs, and tissues receive an inadequate supply of blood. It may be harder for you to do things that might have been easy in the past. You can have heart failure without ever suffering a heart attack.
The multidisciplinary team at Baylor Jack and Jane Hamilton Heart and Vascular Hospital is committed to you and your heart health. We're here to help you understand more about heart failure and what you can do about it, and ready to work with you and your health care provider.
Treatment options for heart failure include a left-ventricular assist device (LVAD), the total artificial heart and heart transplant.
When the heart is unable to pump blood, a patient may benefit from a surgically implanted pump placed in the chest known as a left ventricular assist device (LVAD). This device can be used as a substitute to help the heart work more efficiently, supplementing the heart's pumping ability to improve blood flow. An LVAD supports a weakened or diseased left ventricle, the heart's most muscular chamber which pumps oxygen-rich blood out of the heart and throughout the entire body. It may be necessary if heart failure progresses to the point where medicines and other treatments no longer help.
The LVAD consists of a tube connected to the left ventricle, a pump, and another tube connected to the aorta. As the left ventricle fills with blood, it flows through the tube and into the internal pump, which pushes it forcefully out into the aorta.
A battery-powered mechanical device, the LVAD is connected to a computer controller and power supply outside of the body; a belt or harness holding these external items may be given to the patient to wear. The most commonly used LVADs are the size of a compact disc (CD), although newer versions may be much smaller.
LVADs are often used for heart failure or during the period prior to heart transplant.
Cardiac replacement using a total artificial heart as a bridge to transplantation is possible through Baylor Heart and Vascular Services at Dallas. The total artificial heart is a blood pump which eliminates the symptoms and source of end-stage heart failure by replacing both failing heart ventricles and the four heart valves. Patients must meet certain criteria to be suitable candidates for the total artificial heart.
Cardiac transplantation, commonly called a heart transplant, is surgically replacing a patient's irreversibly damaged heart with a healthy heart donated from another person. A heart transplant is for individuals with end-stage heart disease that does not respond to any other form of therapy. Physicians follow strict medical guidelines to qualify and select potential heart recipients.
After experiencing a widow-maker heart attack in his home, Tim Gallagher was given a lifesaving heart transplant at Baylor Heart and Vascular Services at Dallas.
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