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Saint Thomas Heart

Heart Failure Surgery

Saint Thomas Heart has the largest heart failure program in Tennessee.  The first course of treatment for heart failure is lifestyle change, medications, and treatment of the inciting problem.  But when heart failure worsens, these measures may no longer control the symptoms, and a medical procedure or surgery may be necessary.

In the later stages of heart failure, the system that conducts electrical impulses in the heart can deteriorate. As a result, the walls of the left ventricle may no longer contract in synchrony, disrupting the heart’s pumping. To correct this problem, the cardiac electrophysiologist (EP) might implant a cardiac resynchronization therapy (CRT) device, which is a special type of pacemaker near the heart. This device helps the walls of the heart contract at the same time, which can decrease heart failure symptoms and improve survival.

Some people who have heart failure have very rapid, irregular heartbeats. Without treatment, these heartbeats can cause sudden cardiac arrest.  To solve this problem, an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) can be implanted near the heart.  An ICD checks the heart rate and uses electrical pulses to correct irregular heart rhythms.

Those with severe heart failure symptoms at rest, despite other treatments, may need:

  • A mechanical heart pump, such as a left ventricular assist device, to help pump blood from the heart to the rest of the body or
  • A heart transplant, where the diseased heart is replaced with a healthy heart from a deceased donor. Heart transplants are performed as a life-saving measure for end-stage heart failure when medical treatment and less drastic surgery have failed.

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