Patients with advanced heart failure or pulmonary failure who are awaiting a heart transplant, or who aren’t eligible for a heart transplant, may need mechanical circulatory support (MCS) to ensure proper blood flow and oxygenation. MCS devices supplement or replace the function of a failing heart or lungs.

Extra-corporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) is a form of partial cardiopulmonary bypass which can be used for extended periods in the intensive care unit. ECMO can temporarily replace the function of the failing heart, lungs, or both in order to allow a patient to recover from a potentially reversible severe critical illness. The following partial list of conditions may be appropriate for support with ECMO:

  • Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS)
  • Cardiogenic Shock
  • Severe Refractory Asthma
  • Massive Pulmonary Embolism
  • Accidental Hypothermia, Drowning, or Poisoning

Heart Hospital of Austin has a comprehensive, dedicated team made up of ECMO physicians (cardiologists, cardiovascular surgeons, intensivists and perfusionists) and ECMO specialist nurses. We hold regular training courses and practice drills to ensure that our providers are always ready to care for these seriously ill patients. Our ICU is staffed by board certified physicians who are dedicated to caring for these most seriously ill patients.

Left ventricular assist devices (LVAD) are mechanical pumps that are implanted alongside a patient’s own heart and designed to assist the heart’s pumping function to restore the flow of oxygenated blood throughout the body. The LVAD is a surgically implanted mechanical device that augments the pumping ability of a heart that cannot effectively function on its own.

LVAD is designed for patients with advanced heart failure who require more support than medication alone can safely provide. The device can be used to support patients until they can receive a heart transplant (bridge to transplant) or as a long-term/permanent support (destination therapy).

LVADs are portable and are frequently used for months to years, giving a person the freedom to enjoy an improved quality of life and increased productivity. LVADs may also allow a person to return to work, travel and spend time with family and friends.

What is Heart Failure?

Heart failure (HF) is a chronic, progressive condition that develops when the heart muscle weakens and is unable to pump a sufficient amount of blood throughout the body. More than 650,000 Americans are living with heart failure disease. Heart failure is a frequent cause for hospitalization. Heart failure worsens over time and is typically caused by persistent high blood pressure, heart attack, valve disease and other forms of heart disease or birth defects. Left untreated, the lack of adequate blood flow causes the organs to fail, resulting in numerous medical complications that deteriorate a person's quality of life.

What are the signs and symptoms of heart failure?

  • Shortness of breath, especially when lying down
  • Fatigue
  • Coughing and wheezing
  • Swelling in the feet, ankles and legs
  • Weight gain from fluid buildup

About Our Program

Advanced Heart Failure Program at Heart Hospital of Austin

The Advanced Heart Failure Program at Heart Hospital of Austin will evaluate patients with end stage heart failure for left ventricular assist devices (LVADs) and ECMO support. The mechanical circulatory support program has a multidisciplinary team of board-certified HF specialists, cardiovascular surgeons, advanced practice providers and program coordinators dedicated to helping patients with advanced cardiovascular disease. Our team-based approach with multidisciplinary patient rounding (involving family members) and our unparalleled experience in both temporary and chronic MCS therapies allow us to provide the highest quality of care to patients.