The WVU Medicine Center for Advanced Heart Failure and Cardiovascular Research is the only center of its kind in the region. We’re dedicated to bringing you high-level heart care. Our specialists work together to detect and treat all types of heart failure. We use the most advanced and effective services available.
Every day, our team cares for people with cardiovascular (heart and blood vessel) conditions. We help our patients to manage heart disease, avoid hospitalization, and improve their quality of life. With a focus on research, our goal is saving lives today and in the future.
Our center is in the ultramodern, 10-story WVU Heart and Vascular Institute tower. With sophisticated facilities, intervention, and expertise, our patients have fewer emergency room visits and hospitalizations. This eases the burden and lowers healthcare costs, too.
The American Heart Association (AHA) has recognized the WVU Medicine heart failure program for excellent care and innovation. The Center for Advanced Heart Failure and Cardiovascular Research earned the Heart Failure Gold Plus Quality Achievement Award with Target: Heart FailureSM Honor Roll by meeting specific quality achievement measures for the diagnosis and treatment of heart failure patients, including evaluation of the patient, proper use of medications, and aggressive risk-reduction therapies. Before patients are discharged, they also receive education on managing their heart failure and overall health, a scheduled follow-up visit, and other care transition interventions.
Under the leadership of preeminent cardiologist George Sokos, D.O., some of the nation’s best heart and vascular surgeons, cardiologists, thoracic surgeons, and other experts provide comprehensive services. We’re transforming heart care in West Virginia and beyond.
Understanding heart failure
The AHA estimates that one in five people will develop heart failure. It is a serious but manageable condition – especially with early intervention. Some types of heart failure require more timely medical attention.
Heart failure does not mean that your heart has failed. It means that your heart isn’t pumping enough oxygen-rich blood to meet your body’s needs.
Congestive heart failure involves fluid around the heart. It can cause shortness of breath and other symptoms. Although some people use this term for all types of heart failure, congestive heart failure requires prompt medical attention. Other types include left-ventricular (LV) and right-ventricular (RV).
Symptoms and causes
A weakened heart is often a sign of a progressive heart condition. Causes of heart failure vary. They can include heart disease or conditions such as high blood pressure or diabetes. Other causes include damage from a heart attack or birth defect.
High blood pressure, thyroid and kidney disorders can also contribute to heart failure. Our WVU Medicine heart team works with your care providers to treat any related health conditions.
Heart failure warning signs include:
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Tiredness after normal activities like walking or climbing stairs
- Swelling in your ankles, feet, legs, abdomen or neck
Fluid buildup symptoms like these can get worse as your heart weakens. You might notice weight gain and frequent urination. A cough that gets worse when you’re lying down may be a sign of fluid in your lungs. This requires emergency care. If you experience heart failure symptoms, seek prompt medical attention.
Services we offer
WVU Medicine cardiovascular team members work collaboratively to deliver specialized services. Our experts provide timely diagnosis and treatment, including inpatient and outpatient care. Services range from diagnosis to surgical interventions and cardiac rehabilitation.
New technology and facilities ensure fast, effective care in a comfortable environment. In state-of-the-art cardiac labs, doctors use intricate therapies such as primary coronary intervention (PCI) to treat narrowed arteries. Doctors perform emergency cardiac catheterization to open blocked blood vessels to lower your risk of injury after a heart attack. Other services include electrophysiology (EP) testing.
Highlights of our services and expertise include:
- Advanced diagnosis and imaging. Radiology is one of WVU Medicine’s strengths. The Center for Cardiac Imaging and Ultrasound Research is a WVU Center of Excellence. Our doctors work with the Center for Advanced Imaging (CAI). The facility’s 3-Tesla MRI is twice as powerful as conventional MRI. The 64-Slice CT scanner provides 3-D ultrasound. It can detect problems or prevent a heart attack before you notice symptoms.
- Medical and surgical cardiovascular expertise. Our cardiovascular team and other specialists work as a team to deliver complete care. This includes rapid response for chest pains or other emergencies. From medical cardiology to surgically implanted devices to heart transplant and other procedures, the care you need is here.
- Minimally invasive interventional cardiology. We diagnose and treat certain conditions with interventional cardiology. It’s less invasive than open surgery. Using computer-guided imaging, doctors view and treat the heart through catheters (thin, flexible tubes). WVU Medicine also leads the region in robotically assisted surgery. We perform complex procedures with smaller incisions and more precision. Patients feel less pain and enjoy a fast recovery.
- Lifesaving technology and therapies. WVU Medicine doctors stay on the leading edge of science to improve heart care. Our cardiologists were among the first in the nation to implant a heart-monitoring sensor – part of the CardioMEMS™ HF System. The device measures artery pressure that’s an early indicator of worsening heart failure. These and other treatments, such as Ventricular Assist Devices (VADs), lower risks and enhance life.
- Research helps today and tomorrow. At WVU Medicine, we never stop improving care and outcomes. Researchers investigate promising therapies, including VADs and other devices. Eligible patients can volunteer to take part in clinical trials to try novel therapies not yet widely available.
While there is no cure for heart failure due to damaged heart muscle, many therapies manage symptoms very well. Treatment depends on your condition and goals. Your doctors will identify the cause, which will guide your treatment plan. Treatments can range from lifestyle changes, medications, and outpatient therapies to surgically implanted devices. In some instances, doctors may recommend a heart transplant.
The WVU Medicine heart team includes doctors, nurses, nurse practitioners, nutritionists, and others with high-level heart failure expertise. We work across disciplines to meet your needs – from diagnosis through treatment and rehabilitation. Learn more.