Sara Kalantari and patient

The University of Chicago Medicine is home to one of the most respected heart failure programs in the country. With experts in heart failure medical treatment, mechanical circulatory support and cardiac surgery, including heart transplant, we are committed to delivering the highest level of care to patients, especially those with advanced or complex disease requiring state-of-the-art therapies. 

What is Heart Failure?

When your heart is healthy, it continuously pumps blood throughout the body via the circulatory system. Heart failure occurs when the heart muscle becomes damaged and is unable to deliver enough nutrient-rich blood to meet the body’s needs for oxygen. In some cases, the kidneys respond to heart failure by retaining water and, as a result, fluid builds up in the arms, legs, lungs and other organs. This condition is referred to as congestive heart failure. While there is no cure for heart failure, medications, lifestyle changes and surgical options can alleviate symptoms and help patients lead an active life.

Signs & Symptoms of Heart Failure

With more than 5 million people suffering from heart failure in the United States, it is so important to understand the causes, signs and symptoms of this condition in order to seek medical attention as soon as possible. The best defense against heart failure is to live a healthy lifestyle. But it is also critical to know when you are experiencing symptoms and to reach out to your doctor as quickly as possible. Patients with heart failure may experience: 

  • Confusion
  • Fatigue

  • Heart palpitations

  • Lack of appetite, nausea, abdominal pain

  • Persistent coughing

  • Shortness of breath, during exercise or rest

  • Swelling in the feet, ankles, legs or abdomen
  • Weight gain

These symptoms may be a sign of heart failure or of another medical condition. If you experience one or more of the above symptoms, see your physician for an evaluation.

Courage and Innovation 2020: Heart Transplant at UChicago Medicine

[MUSIC PLAYING] The University of Chicago Medicine is home to one of the most respected heart-failure and transplant programs in the country. We treat some of the most advanced heart conditions, and each member of the team, from greeters to surgeons, is committed to delivering compassionate and innovative care to patients and their families every step of the way.

Our heart transplant program, I would say, is uniquely positioned as perhaps the best in the world. We have a very short wait times compared to the national average. Our survival rates are some of the best in the country. The percentage of patients we get transplanted is one of the highest in the country.

And the program is designed to be comprehensive, so anyone that has a condition of heart failure, no matter what the etiology is and what the cause is, and we have people come in to be cared for no matter what.

It is a dedicated multidisciplinary team that makes this work so well-- high skill levels combined with a caring, devoted attitude from professionals committed to helping the patient heal.

I think it starts with the greeters. It's the people who come and deliver the food. I think that they really get to know the patients. And I think the patients can be here for times that are both good and bad, and I think the staff that tend to the patients every single day, have to work with the patients through those tough moments, whether they get really good news, whether they get really challenging news, and having that openness to helping the patient now.

These unsung heroes all have to work together, from the person who transports a patient to a procedure or to the operating room, and then the person who actually helps run an X-ray machine, the CT scanner. There are literally hundreds of professionals that all have to work in concert as a symphony, a very, very complicated symphony, to actually help patients, whoever receives heart transplants.

The people that do this job have a special commitment to the patients and their families.

I feel anyone who is in this role is very committed to their patient population. There are many challenges sometimes. And besides supporting the patients and the social-work department, we also support each other.

And, of course, UChicago Medicine is one of the leaders in complex multi-organ transplants. Our heart-transplant success rates are among the best in the world, and we continue to build upon our success through surgical innovation and world-class medical care.

I think the thing that makes us most different-- a lot of people do heart transplants, but there's two things. One, we take on a complexity of cases that other people don't want to take on. But we also are able to provide this therapy to relatively disadvantage populations also. And that's a matter of pride to us also, that we can provide that service.

Yeah. You're at the forefront, the forefront of medicine. It's a teaching hospital. There's research constantly going on. Things are changing for the better all the time. And we have the best nurses, the best surgeons, best doctors, best aids, transporters, everybody in the area. And proof's in the pudding.

The work is challenging, but incredibly rewarding. Many patients who previously thought they had no hope now have a new chance at life due to these unsung heroes.

I was telling someone I don't think I had one bad encounter with a health professional at U of C, whether it be a doctor-- the nurses are fantastic. And I wasn't a guest. I was a permanent resident for 110 days. I lived there. They see me at my worst, they see me at my best, they see me my grumpiest, they see me at my most disgusting. And the care was just pretty phenomenal.

To me, I think this is truly a job where-- a lot of people say they want a job that has meaning, and honestly, I don't think it gets any better than this. I've had the opportunity to actually give patients a second chance at life the whole time that I've been here. So it's a pretty amazing job.

[MUSIC PLAYING]

Best Heart Transplant

Conditions That Cause Heart Failure

In most cases, heart failure is caused by an underlying, progressive illness. If you have a underlying condition that is not being managed, it can make weaken your heart and exacerbate heart failure. Some of the conditions associated with heart failure include:

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Why Choose UChicago Medicine for Heart Failure

Explore below to see how we’re advancing heart failure care for adults and children. Our cardiologists, cardiac surgeons, vascular surgeons and researchers are delivering the most advanced, most personalized treatments to more of the patients who need them most. 

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