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New UCH heart failure specialist takes the pulse of LVADs

With the recent addition of William Cornwell, MD, University of Colorado Hospital has expanded its team of advanced heart failure specialists, already the largest in the state. In addition to bolstering the team’s clinical and educational expertise, Cornwell brings a strong interest in a promising new avenue of research for both UCH and UCHealth.

Cornwell, 34, recently completed a five-year advanced heart failure fellowship at University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas. During his time there, he specialized in cardiac transplantation and in left ventricular assist devices (LVADs), the mechanical circulatory support systems that play a crucial role in meeting what he called “the enormous unmet need” of patients with failing hearts.

His work led Cornwell to ponder a surprising potential downside of LVADs. He observed that the devices are designed to restore cardiac output to normal levels in patients with failing hearts. They are capable of pumping up to 10 liters of oxygenated blood to the body. Yet he saw that some patients with LVADs still had symptoms of heart failure and struggled with everyday activities.

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