Heart failure is a condition in which the heart’s ability to pump blood is diminished, resulting in inadequate circulation of blood around the body. Eventually, heart failure leads to the failure of other vital organs, which are lacking the blood they need to function properly.
Diagnosing and Treating Heart Failure
Using an integrated and collaborative approach, heart failure is diagnosed, staged, and treated with a wide array of comprehensive therapies and treatments ranging from carefully chosen medications, to ventricular assist devices and complex heart surgery including heart transplantation.
Heart failure affects 5.7 million Americans, and there are more than 550,000 new cases each year. 250,000 of those new cases are Stage D heart failure, the most advanced stage of the disease.
One of the most challenging aspects of heart disease is its progressive nature. People with early-stage heart disease may do well on minimal treatment for a long time, until they experience more serious symptoms—including heart failure. This is why it is essential that those with heart disease receive consistent care and screenings, to minimize long-term damage and the chance of developing heart failure.
At Northwestern Memorial’s Center for Heart Failure at the Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute, we use an integrated and collaborative approach to treating heart failure. As a team, our cardiologists, cardiac surgeons and nurses work to diagnose heart failure, determine the stage of the disease, and plan the best course of treatment.
We employ a wide array of comprehensive therapies for heart failure, including:
When it comes to screening for assistive devices or transplantation, the team takes a multidisciplinary approach to ensure all avenues are explored and the patient is a good candidate for surgery.
Team Approach to Treating Heart Failure
Heart failure is a debilitating disease requiring comprehensive management, including carefully chosen medications, prudent surgical intervention and appropriate cardiac rehabilitation. The Center for Heart Failure's outstanding multidisciplinary team, including cardiologists, surgeons and nurses, work together to ensure a tailored, individualized plan of care for each heart failure patient.
The Center for Heart Failure is led by Allen S. Anderson, MD, and Edwin C. McGee, MD. Dr. Anderson is a cardiologist, medical director of the Center for Heart Failure and medical director of Heart Transplantation and Mechanical Assistance. He is responsible for pre- and post-operative patient management both in the hospital and at home. Dr. McGee is a cardiothoracic surgeon, surgical director of the Center for Heart Failure and surgical director of Heart Transplantation and Mechanical Assistance. Dr. McGee has extensive experience in both ventricular assist devices and heart transplantation, and also is responsible for post-operative patient management.
Patients may hear the phrase “heart failure” and believe they can’t get better. We disagree. We use evidence-based medicine and follow guidelines prescribed by the American Heart Association. And our highly skilled team works with referring physicians and other experts to ensure that patients have the best outcomes possible—even those patients with truly unique cases.
Emotional and Behavioral Health for Heart Failure
Cardiac treatment is most successful when it focuses on the physical, emotional and behavioral health of the patient. Northwestern's Cardiac Behavioral Medicine service was created with the understanding that the mind and body (the heart, in particular) influence each other.
Kim L. Feingold, PhD, director of Cardiac Behavioral Medicine, Gail M. Osterman, PhD, and Paul Goetz, PhD, are clinical cardiac psychologists that specialize in helping patients and their families adjust to a diagnosis and cope with challenges throughout the course of treatment.
Visit our clinical outcomes section to view the performance of the Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute.
Among the Nation's Best
In 2013-14 U.S. News & World Report ranked our Cardiology and Heart Surgery program #12 in the nation and the highest ranked program in Illinois for the sixth straight year.
For more information regarding 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.
The Center for Heart Failure is currently conducting clinical research trials to test drugs and the latest devices related to heart failure. Our mission includes identifying genetic risk factors that may be responsible for heart failure and sudden cardiac death. These ongoing clinical research trials help ensure that our patients receive the most innovative care for heart failure in the country.
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.