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Heart Failure

When you have heart failure, your weakened heart cannot pump enough blood and oxygen to your organs. You may be short of breath, retain fluid, or feel unusually tired. This condition can make everyday activities like walking and climbing stairs more difficult.

While there isn’t a cure for this progressive disease, you can enjoy a better quality of life with advanced treatments available at Allegheny Health Network (AHN) Cardiovascular Institute.

Heart failure care at Allegheny Health Network: why choose us?

Our specialized heart failure program helps you experience a longer, more active life.

We offer:

  • Leading experts: Our board-certified physicians honed their skills alongside world-renowned heart specialists, while completing residencies and fellowships at the country’s top-tier heart programs. We offer this expertise at AHN to help you achieve the best possible results, closer to home. Meet our providers.
  • Advanced treatments: At AHN, you have access to the latest heart failure diagnosis and treatment options, including therapies and devices still in the clinical trial phase. We also offer cardiovascular rehabilitation to promote strength and mobility.
  • Home heart monitoring: The CardioMEMS™ implantable device allows us to monitor your heart health remotely, as you go about daily life. Daily readings alert our team to signs of heart failure before symptoms start, allowing us to adjust treatments quickly to prevent problems.
  • Heart failure clinic: Our 360-Degrees of Care Program greatly reduces your risk of hospital readmission by facilitating your transition from hospital to home or care facility. A nurse navigator coordinates your home health care services.
  • Personalized focus: Your health concerns are our number one priority. Our team of heart specialists works together to develop a treatment plan that addresses your unique health needs. Our goal is to make your care as stress-free as possible.

Leaders in cardiac care

The following AHN hospitals have earned gold status in the American Heart Association’s Get With the Guidelines®-Heart Failure certification program:

  • Allegheny General
  • Allegheny Valley
  • Cannonsburg
  • Jefferson
  • St. Vincent

In addition, AHN is the highest-rated health system in western Pennsylvania for patient safety in overall medical care, overall surgical care, heart attack treatment, heart failure treatment, and pulmonary care, according to the 2018 CareChex® quality rating system.*

Diagnosing heart failure

Our specialists use the most advanced imaging methods and diagnostic tools to determine the cause, severity, and nature of your heart condition. We offer dedicated care at the AHN Heart Failure Clinic.

Your physician may order heart testing, heart imaging, or both these diagnostic procedures.

Diagnosis through heart testing

  • Cardiac catheterization: Your doctor inserts a flexible tube, or catheter, into a blood vessel to locate blockages or to measure the efficiency of your heart muscle.
  • Electrocardiogram (EKG/ECG): This procedure measures your heart’s electrical activity and shows signs of heart damage, irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia), or heart enlargement.
  • Holter monitor: This wearable EKG/ECG device provides continuous measurements of your heart’s electrical activity. This test is offered through our Electrophysiology Program.
  • Stress test: This exercise test on a treadmill measures your heart’s pumping action and helps diagnose blocked arteries to your heart.

Diagnosis through heart imaging

  • Cardiac magnetic resonance imaging (MRI): This scan uses soundwaves and magnets to create real-time 3D images of your heart’s structure and functions. Learn more about cardiac imaging.
  • Chest X-rays: These images show heart enlargement or damage, as well as fluid retention in your lungs (pulmonary edema), due to heart failure.
  • Computed tomography angiogram (CTA): During a CT scan, an injectable dye reveals blockages in blood vessels that supply blood to your heart.
  • Echocardiogram (echo): This ultrasound procedure measures the pumping action of your heart, also known as ejection fraction.
  • Multigated acquisition (MUGA) scan: Also called a blood pool scan, this nuclear imaging test uses an injectable radioactive substance (tracer) to measure ejection fraction, or how well your heart pumps blood with each heartbeat.
  • Positron emission tomography (PET) scan: This nuclear heart scan uses also tracers to display blood flow to your heart and check for heart damage.

Heart failure treatments at AHN

Depending on the severity of your condition, your doctor may recommend one or more of the following: medication management, heart support devices, and heart surgeries.

Medication management: Certain medications can relieve symptoms, improve heart function, and slow disease progression. Our team of clinical pharmacists has advanced training in cardiology and works with you to manage medications. When appropriate, you may participate in clinical trials to receive the latest medication treatment for heart failure. Learn more about the Cardiovascular Research Institute.

Heart support devices:

  • Mechanical circulatory support: As your heart weakens, you may need a ventricular assist device (VAD), an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD), or other type of mechanical circulatory support to help your heart function.
  • Artificial heart: Our surgeons helped pioneer the use of the SynCardia Total Artificial Heart. This device works similarly to a heart transplant, replacing failing heart ventricles and heart valves.
  • Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO): This machine pumps your blood outside of your body, oxygenates it, and then returns oxygenated blood back to you.

Heart surgeries:

  • Heart valve surgery: We offer minimally invasive, catheter-based procedures to treat structural heart disease. We’re also a regional leader in transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) and MitraClip® for patients too ill to undergo traditional surgery.
  • Minimally invasive bypass surgery: Our surgeons use innovative robotic technology to divert blood flow around a diseased artery. Find out if robotic and minimally invasive surgery is right for you.
  • Heart transplants: Our heart transplant program has some of the best patient survival rates in Pennsylvania, according to the Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients.

Contact us

Call (412) DOCTORS (412.362.8677) or request an appointment to learn more about AHN cardiovascular services.

Our specialists See More

AHN Doctor Daniel Rubin
Daniel A Rubin, MD
Jefferson Hills, PA
AHN Doctor John Balacko
John A Balacko, MD
Natrona Heights, PA
AHN Doctor Gustav Eles
Gustav R Eles, DO
Coraopolis, PA

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*Number one in market claims are based on CareChex® 2018 Composite Quality Scores and Ratings™ for acute care hospitals serving the combined statistical area (CSA) of Pittsburgh-New Castle-Weirton. Source: 2018 CareChex, an information service of Quantros, Inc. January 2014 – June 2016