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Congestive Heart Failure Program


The Advanced Heart Failure Program at University of Colorado is the largest in the state. It is amongst the larger heart failure specialty groups in the nation. It offers a wide range of advanced therapeutic options for heart failure patients. The program is also widely known for its expertise in clinical, genetics, basic, translational and outcomes research. Cardiology fellowship training in advanced heart failure is also offered at University of Colorado. 

The program is focused solely on the management of heart failure patients. The outpatient clinic has seven cardiologists, one nurse practitioner and four nurses. The inpatient service, dedicated exclusively to patients with advanced heart failure, mechanical assist devices and cardiac transplantation, is staffed with six cardiologists, one nurse practitioner and three residents in training. The mechanical assist device program has two dedicated nurses to help patients in and out of the hospital. The transplantation program is discussed under separate heading. The whole group is committed to providing the highest quality care to advanced heart failure patients.

Advanced therapies available at University of Colorado include, in addition to pharmacologic agents, placement of defibrillators and biventricular pacemakers, Percutaneously inserted pumps to assist the heart (e.g. TandemHeart® pump) as well as surgically inserted pumps (e.g. HeartMate II® pump). Pumps are used in severely ill patient whose heart failure cannot be managed with drugs alone. These can be lifesaving therapies in patients in cardiogenic shock. They are used as permanent (or destination) therapy to help keep patients outside the hospital or as bridge to cardiac transplantation. Cardiac transplantation has been offered at University of Colorado Denver since 1989 with results that match national registries.

Heart failure patients at University of Colorado benefit also from the expertise and support of the interventional group (for routine procedures or percutaneous pump placement), the electrophysiology group (providing treatment for complex arrhythmias including ablation of ventricular tachycardia, atrial fibrillation and flutter), advanced imaging services (including echo, CT, MRI, PET etc.), CT surgery and many others.

University of Colorado is the only center approved by the Joint Commission for surgical placement of mechanical assist devices in Colorado and one of a handful in the region. It is the only cardiac transplantation center in Colorado. Patients referred for treatment of advanced heart failure come from Colorado, Wyoming, New Mexico and parts of Kansas, Oklahoma, Nebraska and South Dakota.

Clinical trials offered at University of Colorado include studies of new drugs or new uses of approved drugs in heart failure as well as studies using the latest device technology available (including novel cardiac pumps), allowing rapid incorporation of the latest therapies into routine patient care.

Many other facets of heart failure research are covered at University of Colorado. The basic and translational research programs in heart failure are well renowned and thriving. Various labs on campus study myocardial contractility and sarcomere dynamics, signaling pathways, cardiac remodeling and reverse remodeling mechanisms, pharmacogenomics and predictive molecular pathology. Genome wide association studies and other techniques are used in the Genetics clinic and research lab to discover an ever-expanding number of inherited causes of heart failure. Outcomes research focuses on prognostic modeling, quality of life and re-hospitalization prevention. Group members have hundreds of publications on the subject of heart failure including original research and textbook chapters. They are active participants on writing committees regarding heart failure management guidelines.