Heart Transplant Program Reaches New Milestones

The expanding Advanced Heart Failure, Mechanical Circulatory Support and Cardiac Transplantation Program (historically called the Heart Transplant Program) continues to grow in terms of number of patients treated, procedures available, expertise, clinical research and new training opportunities for cardiologists.

Earlier this year, the heart transplant team reached a landmark of 10 transplants within a nine-month period, setting a pace well ahead of the 10 transplants per year required to maintain certification from the Center for Medicare Services.

“We have a strong team in place that prioritizes individualized care for our advanced heart failure patients,” said Jennifer Cook MD, medical director of the Advanced Heart Failure, Mechanical Circulatory Support and Cardiac Transplantation Program at Sarver Heart Center and Banner University Medical Center – Tucson. “One of the most rewarding aspects of my job is to see patients live their lives, actually thrive after heart transplant. They tell me that they’ve seen their grandchildren get married or they’ve taken the trip of their dreams. However, transplant unfortunately is not an option for many.  Barriers such as the shortage of donor organs require heart-failure specialists to seek creative solutions when heart disease becomes advanced.”

The advanced heart failure program provides a variety of devices and procedures to match an individual patient’s unique needs. These include:

  • Implantable pressure sensors to monitor patient’s condition while at home allowing for customized therapy to reduce hospital admissions for heart failure
  • Minimally invasive cath-lab procedures for high-risk patients who need coronary artery interventions, such as new valves, or a temporary heart pump to improve blood flow
  • Implanted heart pumps to support patients who are either too sick or ineligible for heart transplantation

Meet the entire Advanced Heart Disease and Mechanical Circulatory Support Team on our webpage: heart.arizona.edu/HF-Team.

Training Future Leaders in Heart Failure Care

The UA College of Medicine - Tucson Division of Cardiology recently received accreditation for a sub-specialty fellowship for advanced heart failure, heart transplantation and mechanical circulatory support. “The advanced heart failure fellowship is an additional one-year program devoted to heart failure and transplant medicine for cardiologists who have already completed 3 years of training in general cardiology. The clinical rotations provide broad exposure to medical, surgical and device management of advanced heart failure,” said Dr. Cook, the heart failure fellowship program director. More information is at heart.arizona.edu/HF-Fellowship.

Cardiovascular Clinical Research Core

Dr. Cook, in collaboration with Catherine MacDonald and the Sarver Heart Center Clinical Research Program, also has developed a network of cardiologists at five Banner hospitals who are collaborating on a clinical research study to reduce hospital admissions and improve quality of life for heart failure patients. An implantable hemodynamic monitoring system called CardioMEMs measures blood pressure in the lungs. In a recent CardioMEMS clinical trial, the device reduced hospital admissions by 37 percent.

“The entire device is about two inches long - two wires that form a loop around a chip – and is implanted through the veins. From their home, patients can record heart pressure measurements by simply lying down on a pillow for less than one minute. The information is sent electronically and can be viewed by their doctor online,” explained Dr. Cook. “In our study, we will follow patients for two years to evaluate pulmonary arterial pressure as well as quality of life and exercise capacity.”

This Banner-wide cardiovascular research network has promise to increase access to novel and experimental therapies for not just heart failure, but all cardiovascular conditions throughout Banner.    

Clinical Research

UA Sarver Heart Center has a number of clinical trials. For more information, please visit http://heart.arizona.edu/clinical-research.

Read more Sarver Heart Center news in the Summer 2017 Newsletter.