Advanced Heart Failure

Advanced heart failure means that the treatments you have been receiving for your heart conditions are no longer helping. At Vanderbilt Heart and Vascular Institute, our heart care team provides you with the expert, compassionate care you need.

Patients from around the region choose Vanderbilt because of our outstanding care for heart failure. We treat patients with complex conditions who may have been turned away from other hospitals. Our innovative treatments offer new hope to patients who need it most.

Advanced Heart Failure at Vanderbilt: Why Choose Vanderbilt

We offer:

  • Recognized care: We are ranked among the top 20 cardiology programs in the country and are the only top-ranked program in Tennessee, according to U.S. News & World Report. Our team, including cardiologists, surgeons and other specialists, leads the region in treating advanced heart failure.
  • Innovative treatments for heart failure: We are a destination for advanced heart failure treatments and are among the top 5 heart transplant programs in the country. We were also one of the first hospitals in the region to offer ventricular assist devices (VAD).
  • Depth of expertise: Our doctors have specialized training in diagnosing and treating advanced heart failure. We are able to perform even the most complex heart procedures with excellent outcomes.
  • Forward-thinking approach: As the only academic center in the region, we offer the latest approaches to diagnosis and treatment. We are committed to research that will help patients who need heart failure devices live longer and fuller lives.
  • Patient-centered treatment: We consult with you and your family throughout your care, ensuring you feel comfortable and confident about your treatment plan.

What Is Advanced Heart Failure?

Despite its name, heart failure does not mean the heart is about to stop beating. It means the heart muscle is failing to pump blood normally because it is damaged, weak or both.

Your heart can fail for different reasons, including problems with your valves, your arteries or your heart’s electrical system. With advanced heart failure, you may frequently experience symptoms, such as shortness of breath, which affect your quality of life.

Advanced Heart Failure Tests and Diagnosis

We may perform one or more tests to diagnose advanced heart failure. These include:

  • Blood test: Regular blood tests can check cholesterol levels as well as thyroid and kidney function. A specialized blood test called a B-type natriuretic peptide (BNP) blood test can check the level of BNP in your blood, which increases when heart failure worsens.
  • Chest X-ray: This imaging test provides detailed pictures of your heart’s structure.
  • Echocardiogram: An echo is an ultrasound of your heart that allows us to examine how well your heart pumps.
  • Electrocardiogram (ECG): This test records your heart’s electrical activity.
  • Ejection fraction: We use this test to measure the blood pumped out with each heartbeat.
  • Cardiac catheterization: This is a minimally invasive procedure. We insert a thin tube into your blood vessels and thread to it your heart. An X-ray provides us with detailed information about your heart’s structure and function.

Advanced Heart Failure Treatments

Our specialists perform a thorough evaluation to confirm a diagnosis. Then, we will discuss treatment options with you, which may include:

  • Medication: Certain medications can improve your heart function, slow the progression of heart failure and help improve symptoms.  
  • Pacemaker: A pacemaker is a battery-operated device that we surgically implant in your chest. It can stimulate your heart so that it beats regularly and works more efficiently.
  • Implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD): People who are at high risk of cardiac arrest due to a ventricular arrhythmia (a dangerous irregular heartbeat) may need an ICD. When an ICD detects an arrhythmia, it delivers an electric shock to return your heartbeat to a normal rhythm.
  • Valve repair or replacement: Our heart team uses both nonsurgical and surgical methods to repair or replace failing heart valves, including transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR). We perform nearly 200 TAVR procedures a year, more than anyone else in the region.
  • Coronary artery bypass grafting: If the heart failure is caused by a severe blockage, bypass surgery can create a path for blood to flow around the blockage. The surgeon takes a healthy blood vessel (graft) from another part of the body and uses the new blood vessel to bypass the blockage.
  • Ventricular assist device (VAD): A VAD helps a patient whose heart is too weak to pump blood on its own. We are one of the first hospitals in the region to offer this lifesaving treatment option. VAD can be a primary treatment, or it can help you regain enough strength for a heart transplant.
  • Heart transplant: We are nationally recognized as a leader in heart transplantation. Outcomes for patients receiving a heart transplant at our center regularly exceed nationally established benchmarks. As the largest heart transplant program in Tennessee, we have the experience and resources to provide the most advanced care to our patients.

Learn more about these treatments for advanced heart failure in our Health Library.

Vanderbilt Heart and Vascular Institute Locations

Our experienced team of doctors may see patients at additional locations. To find the location closest to you, call (615) 322-2318.

Columbia
Maury Regional Medical Center
1220 Trotwood Ave., Suite 401
Columbia, TN 38401
(931) 388-8622
Map and Directions

Franklin
Williamson Medical Center
4323 Carothers Pkwy., Williamson Tower, Suite 405
Franklin, TN 37067
(615) 322-2318
Map and Directions

Knoxville
900 E. Oak Hill Ave., Suite 600
Knoxville, TN 37917
(615) 322-2318
Map and Directions

Nashville
Medical Center East
1215 21st Ave S., 5th Floor
Nashville, TN 37232
(615) 322-2318
Map and Directions

Murfreesboro
1370 Gateway Blvd., Suite 200
Murfreesboro, TN 37129
(615) 895-1301
Map and Directions

Winchester
1397 S. College St., Suite 1
Winchester, TN 37398
(615) 322-2318
Map and Directions

Advanced Heart Failure Physicians