During your visit, you can expect to meet with several different providers. You may also have one or more tests. In addition to the information below, we will send you a personalized clinic itinerary by mail. That way, you'll know exactly when and where to go.
If you are traveling from a distance, we'll make sure to schedule everything you need in only one to two days. This includes evaluations for advanced therapies such as heart transplantation and ventricular assist devices (implantable heart pumps), which require multiple provider consults and tests.
The following specialists will be available to meet with you during your visit, depending on your needs.
Heart Failure Specialists:
You will meet with a heart failure cardiologist and a nurse practitioner or physician assistant. We will review your medical history and current health and perform a complete physical exam. We will also review results from any tests you have had, and order additional or new tests as needed. At the end of your visit we will go over your treatment plan (see below).
Individuals being evaluated for advanced therapies such as heart transplant or ventricular assist devices will meet with a cardiac surgeon. The surgeon will evaluate the patient's candidacy for surgery and review the details of the procedure.
CV Critical Care:
Our CV critical care physicians are specially trained to care for patients in the early period after cardiac surgery. They see patients in our clinic prior to surgery to evaluate their lungs and general medical condition. This evaluation will help identify potential problems that can be addressed before surgery, making a patient's outcome and recovery more successful.
Our clinic has a dedicated outpatient pharmacist who meets with many of our patients. The pharmacist will review your new and current medications and answer any questions you may have.
Our clinical social worker completes a full social history and evaluation for individuals being considered for advanced therapy. The social worker also assists patients with community resources and hosts patient support groups focused on coping with chronic illness.
We may consider a left ventricular assist device (LVAD) for certain patients in the advanced stages of heart failure. LVAD Nurse Coordinators meet with heart failure patients to provide them with device education and an opportunity to meet with another LVAD patient. LVAD nurse coordinators follow LVAD patients throughout the course of their care with LVAD, including inpatient care and future clinic visits.
Our clinic's financial coordinator assists patients with a broad range of financial needs including insurance approval for procedures and surgeries and assistance with medication and relocation expenses.
Good nutritional health is important to all patients, particularly those who may require surgery. Our registered dietician will assess a person's nutritional state and provide strategies for weight loss and an overall healthy diet.
Certain tests will help us to measure the size of your heart and how well it functions. During your visit you may have one or more of the following tests:
Laboratory Blood Tests:
Blood tests assess levels of hormones in your blood that are associated with heart failure. The blood tests also tell doctors about your kidney function and your level of electrolytes (sodium and potassium).
An echocardiogram ("echo" for short) is a cardiac ultrasound that helps assess the condition of your heart. An echo can measure your ejection fraction (EF) which is the pumping function of your heart, and can detect any structural problems with the heart walls and valves.
A chest X-ray shows your providers the size of your heart.
An electrocardiogram (EKG or ECG for short) records the electrical activity of your heart. An EKG provides information about your heart's rate and rhythm, and can diagnose a variety of heart conditions.
A stress test involves stressing your heart, with either exercise or medication, and then monitoring your heart's reaction. The test can use EKG, echocardiogram, and/or nuclear imaging to monitor the heart.
Right Heart Catheterization:
In this outpatient procedure, the doctor uses a catheter to measure the pressures in the heart and large blood vessels in your lungs.
In this outpatient procedure, the doctor uses a catheter and X-ray images to see the blood vessels in your heart.
We may order additional tests such as a take-home EKG monitor (Holter monitor), an exercise capacity test (Vo2 Max), or a sleep study to evaluate sleep apnea.
Recommendations and Treatment Plan
At the end of your visit, you will meet again with the Heart Failure Specialist. Based on a careful review of your medical history, physical examination, and the results of your tests, recommendations and a treatment plan will be outlined.
For patients being evaluated for advanced therapies, a final recommendation will be provided after our weekly multidisciplinary team meeting.