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Northwestern Medicine Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute Celebrates 15 Years of Breakthrough Medicine

Number one cardiology and heart surgery program in Illinois for more than a decade; only program in Illinois with top 10 national U.S. News & World Report ranking

CHICAGO — Illinois’ highest ranked cardiology and heart surgery program. Among the highest survival rates for heart failure and heart attack in the United States. The most minimally replaced aortic valves in Illinois.

Fifteen years since the Valentine’s Day founding of Northwestern Medicine Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute, the program has grown into a nationally ranked, innovative powerhouse of cardiovascular medicine, pioneering treatments and research into cardiovascular disease, considered the persistent number one killer of American men and women. The program stands as a destination for the latest, safest advances in cardiovascular care, from minimally invasive valve replacement to leading care for heart rhythm irregularities, from research into preventive medicine to complex cardiac surgery.

The program started at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in 2005 when Chicago real estate developer and philanthropist Neil Bluhm joined noted cardiac surgeon Patrick M. McCarthy, MD, with the goal of creating a world-class, destination cardiovascular medicine program in America’s third largest city. Steady, generous support from Bluhm and other donors increased access and treatment options for heart and vascular patients throughout Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin.

“For 15 years, the Northwestern Medicine Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute has proven excellence has no boundaries,” said Dean M. Harrison, president and chief executive officer, Northwestern Memorial HealthCare. “Today we recognize the remarkable achievements of our physicians, nurses and staff enabled by the strong leadership and dedicated support of Dr. Patrick McCarthy and Neil Bluhm. We are proud to be ranked 7th in the nation by U.S. News and World Report and offer world-class cardiovascular care to patients throughout Chicago and from across the nation.”

Fifteen years since its founding, the cardiovascular program stands alone in Illinois for its outcomes, research, coordinated care and achievements in patient care.

“We are tremendously grateful for Neil Bluhm’s generosity that has now benefited hundreds of thousands of patients that we have treated at the Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute,” said Dr. McCarthy, executive director of the Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute, chief of cardiac surgery and Heller-Sacks Professor of Cardiothoracic Surgery at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. “Patients from the Chicago area, United States and beyond come to Northwestern because of the talent that we have recruited and trained. We are fulfilling Mr. Bluhm’s vision to provide a world class heart program in our home in Chicago that has become a destination for patients and for medical teams who want to learn the latest and best care for cardiovascular patients.”

Since the Valentine’s Day, 2005 founding of the Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute:
The cardiology and heart surgery program at Northwestern Memorial Hospital rose from unranked to a top 10 national program for five consecutive years, as well as the top ranked cardiology and heart surgery program in Illinois for more than 10 consecutive years (U.S. News & World Report).
Northwestern Memorial is the only hospital out of 3,500 in the United States providing high-quality, low-cost care for both heart attack and heart failure, according to recent data from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. The hospital has also had the highest acute heart attack survival in Illinois for five consecutive years, and the highest heart failure survival in Illinois for four consecutive years.
The volume of complex cardiac surgery has risen 875 percent since 2004 at Northwestern Memorial under Dr. McCarthy’s leadership. In 2018, the hospital set a new record in Illinois for the most hearts transplanted during a single calendar year with 56 heart transplants.
The Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute is currently at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, Northwestern Medicine Lake Forest Hospital, Northwestern Medicine Central DuPage Hospital, Northwestern Medicine Delnor Hospital, Northwestern Medicine Kishwaukee Hospital, Northwestern Medicine Valley West Hospital and will be expanding in 2020 to Northwestern Medicine McHenry and Northwestern Medicine Huntley hospitals.
Through its Clinical Trials Unit, more than half of Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute’s faculty are principal investigators, leading innovative research in cardiovascular disease and medicine. Currently, there are more than 100 active clinical trials.
In 2019, Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute started a new program to study artificial intelligence in cardiovascular medicine, investigating devices and algorithms for automated detection of cardiovascular abnormalities with the long-term goal of increasing access to life-saving treatments in rural hospitals or underserved communities, and improving the accuracy of diagnosis.
Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute physicians were the first in the state to pioneer TAVR, or transcatheter aortic valve replacement, and also lead trials on minimally invasive mitral and tricuspid valve treatments. These options prevent many patients from undergoing open-heart surgery.
With the expansion of access to care across hospitals, Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute has physicians providing care at multiple sites, coordinated care protocols across the system, increased the number of patients treated at all locations, and offered new programs such as TAVR, atrial fibrillation ablation, and new minimally invasive surgical procedures.
Physicians have led the development of premier specialty programs, including ones for diastolic heart failure, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, bicuspid aortic valve, among others, tailoring diagnosis and management of these conditions and increasing access to innovative treatments.
Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute leadership has recruited and retained top cardiovascular faculty, including three American Heart Association Physician of the Year recipients, and several leaders of national cardiovascular organizations such as the American Heart Association and the American Society of Echocardiography.

“From superior outcomes for patients to breakthrough research, including one of the first centers in the country studying artificial intelligence and cardiovascular disease, Northwestern Medicine’s cardiovascular program rose to one of the top programs in the country and continues to sustain and grow upon that excellence,” said Neil Bluhm, founder and president of JMB Realty Corporation. “At Northwestern Medicine, there is boundless enthusiasm and vigor for the coming decades of cardiovascular research, innovation and patient care throughout the Chicago area and beyond.”

For more information about the Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute, or to make an appointment, visit heart.nm.org or call (312) NM-HEART.

For more information about Northwestern Medicine, visit news.nm.org/about-northwestern-medicine.html.