Heart Surgery for Heart Failure
At Northwestern Memorial’s Center for Heart Failure at the Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute, we offer a variety of treatment options for patients experiencing heart failure. These include medical management, implantation of devices like pacemakers or defibrillators, ventricular assist devices or heart transplantation. For some patients experiencing heart failure, surgery is the best option.
What is a Coronary Artery Bypass Graft?
Coronary arteries are blood vessels that supply the heart with oxygen and nutrients. Patients with atherosclerosis (coronary artery disease or CAD) develop deposits of fat, cholesterol and calcium (called plaque) that build up inside arteries. The result: the wall of the artery narrows and becomes rough and hard. When one or more of the coronary arteries is narrow or blocked, the heart does not get the needed blood supply.
Inadequate blood supply means patients may experience symptoms including chest pain (angina) or difficulty breathing. (Although some patients, like diabetics, may not experience symptoms when the arteries become blocked.)
The first symptom of CAD may be a heart attack. Coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) surgery creates a detour around the blocked portion of the artery, restoring blood supply to the heart. CABG may increase the lifespan of patients with blockages in either all three coronary arteries or in the main left coronary artery.
Other Surgical Approaches to Heart Failure
The Center for Heart Failure offers a variety of cardiac surgical procedures for patients experiencing heart failure. CABG is one approach; another uses heart valve surgery to repair or replace faulty valves. If these methods are inappropriate, a third approach—ventricular reconstruction—may be an option.
Team Approach to Cardiac Surgery
Under the direction of cardiac surgeon Patrick M. McCarthy, MD, patients are cared for by cardiac surgery specialists. These include cardiac surgeons, cardiologists, advance practice nurses, physician assistants, physical therapists, cardiac rehabilitation specialists, dietitians, psychologists and social workers. Through this multidisciplinary team approach, we are able to identify the most appropriate therapy for each individual patient.
For more information regarding heart surgery for heart failure or to obtain a consultation, please contact the Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute at 312-NM-HEART (664-3278) or request a first time appointment online.
For more information regarding clinical trials related to heart failure, please visit the Clinical Trials Unit of Northwestern, send an email or call 312-926-4000.