Having heart failure does not mean your child’s heart has "failed." It means your child’s heart cannot pump enough blood to the body.
Heart failure is a serious condition that requires an experienced team performing advanced heart therapies. Our comprehensive Advanced Cardiac Therapies and Heart Transplant Program is dedicated to managing children and adolescents with heart failure. We use the latest treatments, including ventricular assist devices (VADs) and, in certain situations, heart transplantation.
Causes of Heart Failure
Heart failure is usually the result of heart disease. Common causes of heart failure include:
- Cardiomyopathies, which are abnormalities of the heart muscle
- Viral myocarditis, where the heart muscle is not strong enough to pump blood
- Complex congenital heart disease with structural defects, where surgery is either unavailable or unsuccessful
Advanced Cardiac Therapies and Heart Transplant Program at Children’s National
The littlest hearts demand the most advanced care. Each child in our Advanced Cardiac Therapies and Heart Transplant Program benefits from the experience and expertise of our heart team, many of whom are nationally renowned heart failure specialists.
We also take special care to monitor your child’s cognitive development during this time. Learn more about our Cardiac Neurodevelopmental Outcome program.
Features of our heart failure program include:
- Personalized care: There is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to treatment for heart failure. We work intimately with each family to create an individualized treatment plan that offers your child the best long-term outcome. We are constantly monitoring the effectiveness of the treatments and making changes as necessary. In addition, we offer resources and emotional support to the entire family during this time.
- Dedicated heart failure team: The members of our heart failure team have devoted their careers to understanding, managing, and treating heart failure in children. Your child’s team will consist of:
- Nurses and nurse practitioners
- Respiratory therapists
- Social workers
- Occupational and physical therapists
- Child life specialists
- Full range of treatments: We use the latest advances in heart failure therapy to provide comprehensive, effective care for your child. This includes:
- Ventricular assist devices (VADs)
- Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO)
- Home infusions of inotropic drugs (medications that change the force of heart contractions)
- Implanting biventricular pacemakers for cardiac resynchronization therapy, for children with heart failure who also develop arrhythmias
- Using automatic cardioverter-defibrillator devices to treat life threatening arrhythmias. Learn more about cardiac electrophysiology at Children’s.
- WACH Program: As your child ages, we help him or help transition seamlessly to our Washington Adult Congenital Heart (WACH) program, a specialized resources for adults with congenital heart disease.
- Reputable heart transplant program. Our program is one of the Inaugural Vanguard Heart Transplant Centers by the Pediatric Heart Transplant Society (PHTS). This award recognized individual centers for their outstanding contribution to the Pediatric Heart Transplant Society Registry.
Conditions We Treat
We are among a small number of elite heart failure centers in the country that are using VADs for children. Our team continues to pioneer new and more effective VAD techniques. In fact, in the future, VADs may ultimately replace heart transplantation.
Heart Transplant Outcomes
When other treatments are not successful, our team provides heart transplantation as an option. To get a better understanding, take a look at our outcomes data, broken down by age and treatments per year.
Questions to Ask Your Pediatric Surgeon
Social Work Services in the Heart Center
Division of Cardiac Surgery
If a child needs heart surgery, our Division of Cardiac Surgery at Children’s National Hospital is there to provide compassionate, world-class expertise. Our dedicated team of heart surgeons uses groundbreaking innovation and state-of-the-art technology to make sure your child gets the best possible care.