Heart Failure Treatment Options

At The Christ Hospital Health Network, our specialized heart failure team offers the latest in heart failure diagnostics and therapies, such as the left ventricular assist device, to improve your quality and length of life.

Your cardiologist can diagnose heart failure using one or more of the following methods:

  • Blood tests

  • Cardiac catheterization

  • Chest X-rays  

  • Electrocardiogram (EKG or ECG)

  • Echocardiography

  • Exercise stress test

  • Multigated acquisition scanning (MUGA)

  • Physical exam 

In its early stages, heart failure can often be managed with medication and a healthy lifestyle. As the disease progresses and the heart becomes weaker, treatment will become more complex and may require additional device or surgical procedures. These may include implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD), cardiac resynchronization therapy (CRT), left ventricular assist device (LVAD), heart transplantation, percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI), coronary artery bypass and valve replacement. 

Advanced heart failure treatment

As Greater Cincinnati's Heart Hospital℠, The Christ Hospital has been a world leader in heart care for more than 40 years. Choosing our team for heart failure care means having the comfort and trust of a group of experts and researchers who are dedicated to advanced heart failure care.

Left Ventricular Assist Device (LVAD) Program

The LVAD team at the accredited Carl H. & Edyth Lindner Heart Failure Treatment Center at The Christ Hospital consists of board-certified:

  • Cardiologists

  • Dieticians

  • Exercise specialists

  • Nurse practitioners

  • Psychiatrists

  • Registered nurses

  • Social workers

  • Surgeons

All members of the team have specialized training in the care of LVAD patients.

The Christ Hospital has earned The Joint Commission Gold Seal of Approval™ for its Mechanical Heart Assist Device Program - we have received this recognition since 2010. A team of Joint Commission expert surveyors evaluated the hospital for compliance with standards of care specific to the needs of heart failure and LVAD patients and families, including:

  • Infection prevention and control

  • Leadership

  • Medical treatment and management

  • High quality standards

  • Performance improvement measures

  • Hospital staff, community and patient education 

This certification enables our non-transplant program to offer destination therapy treatment with LVAD, meaning that heart failure patients can receive LVAD as their main treatment for heart failure, rather than LVAD simply being a bridge to transplant. The Christ Hospital is considered the nation's largest non-transplant center and has been designated as one of the Anthem Centers of Medical Excellence for Ventricular Assist Device Programs since 2017.

In many cases, heart failure progresses despite all of the work that patients, physicians and families put into treating this chronic illness.

In past years, the only treatment option for end-stage heart failure was a heart transplant. More than six million American adults are living with heart failure, with nearly ten percent of those having advanced heart failure. Every year approximately 50,000 people worldwide may need a heart transplant, however, only 3,000 to 3,500 people in the U.S. will get one.

The good news is that new treatment options are now available for these patients. 

Left ventricular assist device

A left ventricular assist device is an advanced treatment option for end-stage heart failure. It is a mechanical pump that's implanted in the heart to help it pump more effectively.

Ventricular assist device

What is a LVAD?​​​ 

Left ventricular assist devices or LVADs can be an effective treatment for advanced heart failure. A LVAD is surgically implanted and assists a failing heart by helping the heart pump more effectively.

Prior to and after implantation of a LVAD, we offer you and your family education and instruction on how to care for the LVAD. Patients and family members are evaluated to ensure a support structure exists before LVAD implantation. 

How does a LVAD work?​

The LVAD pulls blood from the left ventricle and pumps it into the aorta (the large blood vessel that circulates blood to the body and the head). The heart still "beats" and moves in the chest, but the LVAD assists the heart in circulating blood to other vital organs.

What does the LVAD look like once it is implanted?​​​

Most LVADs rest close to the bottom of the heart inside the chest. A driveline (a power cord) exits out of the upper abdomen. 

It is attached to the system controller, which is about the size of a large wallet, and is strapped around the waist. This system controller is powered either by batteries that fit in a holster supported by the your shoulders or to a main power/charger box that is plugged into an electrical outlet at home.

The batteries help you to remain mobile and to carry on normal activities such as working or shopping for up to 12 hours. The main power box is used at home while sleeping and for device monitoring. 

Who is eligible to receive a LVAD?​​ 

Currently, LVADs are implanted for three reasons in patients with heart failure who no longer respond to medications or have received the maximum benefit from medical/pacemaker therapies.

  1. Bridge to transplant (BTT or short-term treatment) — to help support your life until a donor heart becomes available.

  2. Bridge to decision (BTD)—if you are recovering from heart surgery and/or your heart is seriously ill. The LVAD helps the heart recover from shock and is used until a decision is made to transplant or until the heart shows signs of recovery.

  3. Destination therapy (DT or long-term treatment) —if you do not qualify for a heart transplant because of other illnesses or age. 

What is the next step

We welcome a conversation with you and your physicians about whether a LVAD may be right for you. Please contact the Advanced Heart Failure Program at 513-206-1180 for more information.

For current patients who need assistance, please call 513-585-4944. 

LVAD support group

The Christ Hospital welcomes you to a monthly LVAD support group. If you are considering a LVAD, or have a current or previous LVAD implantation, we encourage you and your family to join us.  

100th LVAD Implant Celebration
Our 100th LVAD implant celebration from 2016 speaks to our passion and commitment to our patients and the community. As of 2021, we have implanted more than 260 LVAD’s.