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Heart Failure Program


Heart failure is a serious condition where a child’s heart cannot pump enough blood to the body. This can be a result of many diseases. The common causes of heart failure include cardiomyopathies or viral myocarditis, where the heart muscle is not strong enough to pump blood, or complex congenital heart disease with structural defects where the surgical options are either unavailable or have been unhelpful.

Through Children’s National Heart Institute, Children’s National has a comprehensive Heart Failure Program which focuses on managing young children and adolescents with heart failure through the help of latest medical therapies including Ventricular Assist Devices (VAD) and, in selected cases, heart transplantation.

About Heart Transplantation

Children’s National has partnered with Washington Hospital Center, a leading center for heart failure, VAD, and heart transplant therapy. Children with heart failure who are deemed candidates are offered heart transplantation. They are supported with the help of VAD if their heart function is extremely poor while they are waiting for heart transplantation.

About VAD

A VAD is a device used to support heart function while awaiting heart transplantation. It is a mechanical pump that supports essential blood flow to the vital organs for children with weakened hearts. The Heart Failure Program offers the Berlin Heart EXCOR® Pediatric VAD and other approved continuous flow devices for patients. Dedicated multidisciplinary management, an integral part of care of these children, is provided by our Cardiac Surgery, Cardiology and Cardiac Intensive Care Teams.

Supporting Each Family

Children’s National Heart Institute has a dedicated heart failure team, consisting of physicians, nurse practitioners, nurses, respiratory therapists, social workers, pharmacists, occupational and physical therapists, and child life specialists, who work intimately with each family to provide the individualized attention they need.

The Heart Failure Program complements our many other renowned programs within Cardiac Surgery, Cardiology, and our state-of-the-art Cardiac Intensive Care Unit. Children’s National is the only facility in the region to offer these comprehensive services for infants, children, and adults with congenital heart disease. - Departments & Programs - Children's National Medical Center