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Heart Failure


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Nearly 5.7 million Americans are living with heart failure, and 670,000 new cases are diagnosed each year. Sometimes called congestive heart failure, this occurs when the heart cannot pump enough oxygenated blood to meet the needs of the body's other organs. The heart keeps pumping, but not as efficiently as a healthy heart. Usually, the loss in the heart's pumping action is a symptom of an underlying heart problem.

Heart failure interferes with the kidneys' normal function of eliminating excess sodium and waste from the body. In congestive heart failure, the body retains more fluid, resulting in swelling of the ankles and legs. Fluid also collects in the lungs and causes shortness of breath. 

Why Choose UHealth?

Advanced heart failure therapies. At the University of Miami Health System, you have the best specialists in advanced heart therapies in the region at the Center for Advanced Heart Failure, and access to leading-edge therapies, including ventricular assist devices, clinical trials, and heart transplant. Our advanced heart disease options for treatment go beyond what is available in the community to prolong life and give you or your loved one a second chance. 

Multidisciplinary care by recognized specialists in their field.  In complex cases, heart disease care may require the services of a cardiothoracic surgeon, an interventional cardiologist, a lung specialist, a diabetes specialist and a geneticist. Your doctors talk to each other and make sure all specialties involved in your care are on-board with a unified treatment plan.

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  • Controlling Risk Factors

    Risk factors that contribute to heart failure include: obesity, too much salt and fat in the diet, smoking, alcohol consumption, fatigue, high blood sugar, high blood pressure, and too many fluids.

  • Medications

    Several different types of medication may be helpful in controlling high blood pressure. Often more than one type is needed to get effective control:

    • Angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors like lisinopril decrease the pressure inside the blood vessels and reduce the resistance against which the heart pumps. If ACE inhibitors are not tolerated, angiotensin receptor blockers (ARB) help reduce the workload on the heart. 
    • Similarly, vasodilators like hydralazine can reduce workload on the heart by dilating the blood vessels.
    • Diuretics, including furosemide, reduce the amount of fluid in the body, while aldosterone blockers, such as spironolactone block the effects of the hormone aldosterone, which causes sodium and water retention.
    • Digitalis increases heart strength and helps control rhythm problems, and antiarrhythmic medications such as amiodarone keep the rhythm regular and prevent sudden cardiac death as an adjunct to other therapy.
  • Biventricular Pacing/Cardiac Resynchronization Therapy

    This type of pacemaker paces both ventricles simultaneously to coordinate contractions and improve pumping ability. Some heart failure patients are candidates for this therapy

  • Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator

    This device is similar to a pacemaker, but it senses when the heart is beating too fast and delivers an electrical shock to convert the fast rhythm to a normal rhythm.

  • Ventricular Assist Devices (VADs)

    A VADis a mechanical device that is used to take over the pumping function for one or both of the heart’s ventricles. A VAD may be necessary when heart failure progresses to the point that medications and other treatments are no longer effective. 

  • Heart Transplant

    Heart transplant surgery occurs at the Miami Transplant Institute at Jackson Memorial Hospital with UHealth physicians. Whether you qualify for a heart transplant will depend on a case-by-case evaluation, your response to standard care and other medical conditions you may have. 

  • Clinical Trials

    In addition to a standard therapy some patients will qualify for clinical trials.


  • Chest X-ray

    This diagnostic test uses electromagnetic energy to produce images of internal tissues, bones, and organs.

  • Electrocardiogram (ECG)

    With electrodes taped to the chest, an EKG records the electrical activity of your heart, shows abnormal rhythms and detects heart muscle damage.

  • Echocardiogram (An Echo)

    This noninvasive test uses sound waves to produce a study of the motion of your heart's chambers and valves. 

  • Stress Testing

    A cardiac stress test measures your heart's ability to respond to external stress in a controlled clinicalenvironment. The stress response is induced by exercise or by drug stimulation.

  • BNP Testing

    B-type natriuretic peptide (BNP) is a hormone released from the ventricles in response to increased wall tension that occurs with heart failure. BNP levels are useful in the rapid evaluation of heart failure. The higher the BNP levels, the worse the heart failure.

  • Cardiac Catheterization

    This procedure uses a catheter threaded through veins into the heart to see inside the heart, measure pressures, look at blood vessels, and help determine therapy options. UHealth is home to the Elaine and Sydney Sussman Cardiac Catheterization Lab, which provides advanced imaging capabilities and pinpointsaccuracy for new and complex procedures.

Accepted Insurances

Note: Health plans that are currently contracted with UHealth are listed below. However, please check with your insurance provider to verify that UHealth is part of your provider network.