University of Chicago Medicine opens Heart and Vascular Center

University of Chicago Medicine opens Heart and Vascular Center

Center pulls expertise from cardiology, cardiac surgery, vascular surgery

February 2, 2015

The University of Chicago Medicine has launched the Heart and Vascular Center, which combines resources from three clinical specialties to meet the growing needs of patients seeking cardiovascular care in a highly coordinated setting.

This new center, which includes more than 40 faculty physicians, incorporates specialists, technologies and dedicated nursing and support staff into a carefully orchestrated network of world-renowned experts focused on medical problems involving the heart and blood vessels.

Melding patient-centered care with the most advanced treatment options for all forms of cardiovascular disease, the center will enhance care coordination and patient experience, leading to improved outcomes and faster recovery times.

This approach to care has become critical as the nation's population ages and complex cardiovascular disease becomes more common. The American Heart Association predicts more than 40 percent of Americans will have some form of cardiovascular disease by 2030.

"This enables us to provide the most cutting-edge services," said James Liao, MD, section chief of cardiology and the medical director of the Heart and Vascular Center. "Combining resources in this way will improve medical care and patient convenience. It should also make us more efficient practitioners."

The Heart and Vascular Center builds on the University of Chicago Medicine's considerable expertise. The University is already home to Illinois's largest heart transplant program (the second largest in the Midwest), a nationally known program for the placement and management of ventricular-assist devices, one of the nation's most comprehensive programs using robotic surgery for cardiovascular operations and a nationally acclaimed program in bloodless cardiac surgery and cardiovascular imaging.

"It takes extreme coordination to deliver this sort of care," said Christopher Skelly, MD, section chief of vascular surgery. "That's what we're building. Complex operations, such as a valve replacement, are now performed by a team that combines an interventional cardiologist with a vascular surgeon. We have already built hybrid operating rooms to accommodate this seamless approach, which can speed patient recovery and reduce the need for surgical incisions."

University of Chicago teams perform nearly all adult and pediatric cardiac and vascular procedures, working collaboratively with trusted colleagues from related specialties. They received more than $19 million in research funding last year from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.

Heart and vascular specialists at the University helped develop several diagnostic approaches. They were the first in the United States to provide three-dimensional echocardiography and have enhanced the use of high speed-CT and advanced MR scanning in the diagnosis of heart disease.

University of Chicago faculty were among the pioneers in understanding the basic biology of heart muscle activity, which led to the development of new drugs. They performed groundbreaking early studies on the effects of lifestyle and genetics in heart and vascular disease and on prevention of these disorders. They are leaders in treatment for hypertension. University of Chicago cardiologists implanted the first subcutaneous implantable cardioverter-defibrillator in the U.S. in 2010 and, in 2014, installed one of the world's smallest cardiac pacemakers as part of a clinical trial.

"That sort of innovation rarely happens in a silo," said Valluvan Jeevanandam, MD, section chief of cardiac and thoracic surgery and surgical director of the Heart and Vascular Center. "Clinical advances now involve interdepartmental partnerships, such as our new center. It takes a combination of resources and cross-boundary imagination to generate ideas that will change practice or improve the patient experience. Our Heart and Vascular Center is designed to make that happen."