Congestive Heart Failure: Surgical Precision


Rohinton J. Morris, MD
Chief of Cardiothoracic Surgery at Abington Health

Donald C. Haas, MD
Medical Director of the Ventricular Assist Device Program at Abington Health

As the number of cases of congestive heart failure climb, so do the treatment options. A diagnosis that might have been considered a death sentence only a decade ago now has numerous treatment options. You can learn more during today’s live web chat with Abington Health at 12 pm: The Newest Treatment Options for Congestive Heart Failure.

For advanced heart failure patients, surgical options used to be very limited. While stents and coronary bypass procedures could extend quality of life, they could not repair a damaged heart muscle, leaving heart transplant as the only alternative. Not only are transplants difficult, but viable organs are extremely scarce—only around 4% of patients who need a heart actually receive one.

Just within the last five years, however, a new technology has emerged, and is showing tremendous promise for heart failure patients. Called a ventricular assist device (VAD), this battery-powered implant assists the heart in pumping blood more efficiently.

The device is installed during open-heart surgery, after which patients generally spend two weeks in the hospital recovering, followed by two weeks in rehabilitation. In some cases, the device is only temporary, to be used while waiting for a transplant or recovering from surgery. But as advances allow VADs to be made smaller and longer-lasting, they may provide a permanent alternative to heart transplants.

At Abington Health, the first non-transplant center in the region to use the technology, VADs have been well-received by patients, who say the devices allow them to return to their everyday activities.

Learn more about congestive heart failure and the latest treatments available at today’s Health Chat with Abington Health at 12 pm: The Newest Treatment Options for Congestive Heart Failure. View the live chat here.