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Heart Failure Program

The Heart Failure Program at UI Health offers complete heart failure care, from early prevention strategies to end-stage treatment options. Our comprehensive Heart Failure Program is a team of cardiologists, nurses, nurse practitioners, and pharmacists who specialize in heart failure care. Whether you are struggling to manage a variety of medical conditions, seeking guidance about healthy diet and exercise, you can count on a partner with our Heart Failure Program team. Together, we will work with you and your primary care doctor to coordinate a treatment and medication plan that meets your individual needs and improves your quality of life.

What is Symptomatic Heart Failure

If you have high blood pressure or blocked arteries in the heart, you are at risk of developing heart failure - or you already may have heart failure. Heart failure occurs when the heart is unable to pump enough blood to meet the body's needs. As a result, you may experience a variety of symptoms, including fatigue, shortness of breath, weakness, and swelling in the abdomen, legs, ankles, and feet. Still, you do not have to live with those symptoms forever or face them alone. Together with your cardiologist, the Heart Failure Program experts can provide guidance and answers.

Symptomatic heart failure can rob you of energy, self-reliance and overall quality of life, but the right strategies applied with care and skill can help you regain your health and independence. If you do not respond to standard treatments and are frequently hospitalized, your cardiologist may refer you to the UI Health Heart Failure Program. You may also self-refer to our program if you feel you could benefit from additional guidance or a second opinion.

Heart Failure Diagnosis

When you come to the Heart Failure Program with an initial diagnosis, we will perform a complete diagnostic evaluation to determine the specific cause of your heart failure. Testing may include:

  • Cardiac ultrasound testing: Cardiac ultrasound measures the severity of heart dysfunction and can identify blocked arteries or coronary artery disease, two common causes of symptomatic heart failure.
  • Cardiac magnetic resonance imaging (MRI): Cardiac MRI may be used to diagnose less common causes of heart failure, such as the virus known as myocarditis; faulty heart valves; and cardiomyopathy, damage to the heart muscle caused by alcohol abuse, infections, or certain diseases.

Heart Failure Treatment

Once we have determined the specific cause and severity of your heart failure, we will begin guideline-directed medical therapy to address your specific condition. We also work with your doctors to make sure your treatment aligns with the management of any other health concerns. Our goal is to reduce the need for hospital stays or emergency room visits.

Your treatment plan may start with low-dose medications and weekly visits to assess how you are responding to the medications. If you continue to experience symptoms, we may escalate you to other medications and explore utilizing devices such as defibrillators and biventricular pacemakers.

Specifically, defibrillators may be used to restore your heartbeat by sending small shocks or electrical pulses to your heart. There are several types of defibrillators to treat different types of heart conditions. Transvenous implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICDs) may be surgically placed within the body to correct cardiac problems by sending low-energy shocks to the heart. The device also may send out high-energy shocks in the event that the heart stops pumping completely.  

Similarly, a cardiac surgeon may implant a biventricular pacemaker into your chest to strengthen and even out the beating of your heart through cardiac resynchronization therapy (CRT).

We also have a Cardiac Rehabilitation Program team on hand dedicated to fitness and cardiac rehabilitation. Based in the UI Health Cardiac Rehab Center, our exercise professionals will help you be physically active in a way that will support the health of your heart.

If you are receiving inpatient care, you will also have regular visits with one of our nurse practitioners and a nurse. They will provide in-house education and coordinate transitional care services, helping you set up outpatient appointments after discharge and making sure you are scheduled to have a follow-up appointment with a doctor within seven days of leaving the hospital.

Our Heart Failure team meets once every week to discuss any patients who have been hospitalized during the previous week as well as those individuals we have seen in the outpatient clinic who may be having problems. The goal of our weekly meeting is to make our entire team aware of the well-being of each patient. Together, we can exchange ideas and opinions to formulate tailored treatment plans. 

Support During Heart Failure Treatment

At UI Health, we know that symptomatic heart failure is not easy for anyone, but the condition can be particularly difficult if you are facing other challenges in life. That is why we take care to offer nonclinical support to individuals who may be facing economic hardships or other similar challenges.

Our social workers are skilled at identifying and providing support for patients, including arranging transportation if you do not have access or are unable to drive and working closely with pharmacists to help you find ways to pay for medications.

Additionally, our pharmacists take time to help ensure that if you are a heart failure patient, you have an easy way to remember to take your medications at the right times on the right days. Our unique pharmacy program is designed to improve compliance in the heart failure population, especially if you live with other serious conditions - such as diabetes or hypertension - and are required to take multiple medications per day. The program also helpful for those with eyesight problems who are unable to read prescription labels clearly.

Program participants meet with one of our pharmacists once per month to review medications. The pharmacist will then fill your monthly pillbox with the medications you need to take on each day - all you have to do is open the box and take the medications in the compartment for the designated day.

Contact Us

Our Location
Outpatient Care Center, Suite 3C
1801 W. Taylor St. Chicago, IL 60612  
Directions

To connect with our Heart Failure team 24/7/365, call our hotline at 312.413.8443 or send an email to hfteam@uic.edu.  

To make an appointment with the Heart Failure team, please fill out the online form or call 312.996.6480.