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 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. 

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.

Ventricular Assist Device Program

The VAD 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 VAD patients.

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

  • Infection prevention and control

  • Leadership

  • Medication management

This certification enables our program to offer destination therapy treatment with VAD, meaning that heart failure patients can receive VAD as their main treatment for heart failure, rather than VAD simply being a bridge to transplant . 

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. Every year 50,000 people need a heart transplant in the U.S., but only 2,000 to 2,500 people will get one.

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

Ventricular assist device

A ventricular assist device (VAD) 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 VAD?​​​ 

Ventricular assist devices or VADs can be an effective treatment for advanced heart failure. A VAD is surgically implanted and assists a failing heart by helping the heart pump more effectively.

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

How does a VAD work?​

The VAD 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 VAD assists the heart in circulating blood to other vital organs.

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

Most VADs rest close to the bottom of the heart inside the chest. A driveline (a power cord) exits our 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 VAD?​​ 

Currently, VADs 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 transplantation—To help support a your life until a donor heart becomes available.

  2. Bridge to recovery/decision—If you are recovering from heart surgery and/or your heart is seriously ill. The VAD 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—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 VAD 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. 

VAD support group

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