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Northwestern Medicine Central DuPage Hospital Opens New Advanced Heart Failure Clinic

Patients with advanced heart failure can no longer be managed using medicines alone. However, these patients are not out of treatment options. The new Northwestern Medicine Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute Advanced Heart Failure Clinic at Northwestern Medicine Central DuPage Hospital in Winfield, Ill., is a coordinated effort with Northwestern Memorial Hospital to provide leading-edge therapy for heart failure while keeping patients close to home.

Patients who require a heart transplant or a mechanical support device to help the heart pump blood previously had to travel to Chicago for all of their care. The new clinic, located in the medical office building at Central DuPage Hospital, offers evaluation, management and pre-testing of heart failure patients. Heart transplant and mechanical support device surgery will continue to be done at Northwestern Memorial Hospital.

“We offer patients a significant benefit by doing all of the preliminary work at Central DuPage Hospital, helping to limit the patient’s travel into the city during a highly stressful time,” said Nicholas Furiasse, MD, cardiologist and heart failure specialist, Northwestern Medicine Regional Medical Group. “By closely integrating care with Northwestern Memorial Hospital for the mechanical device and transplant surgery, we are providing patients convenience and access to world-class care.”

Dana Sisson, of Aurora, Ill., is the first patient of the new clinic to receive a heart transplant. A manufacturing engineer and part-time instructor at the College of DuPage, Sisson had been struggling with the symptoms of heart failure caused by a genetic heart defect for eight years.

“It was depressing because I couldn’t work on projects around the house anymore. It was a struggle to get through the day with the severe shortness of breath,” said Sisson. “I hated seeing my wife have to do so much and I wasn’t able to help her very much at all.”

On October 25th, less than a month after being evaluated by Dr. Furiasse and cardiac surgeon Dr. Duc Thinh Pham and only nine days after being listed for heart transplantation, Sisson received a new heart.

“Seeing how much progress Dana has made in such a short period of time has been amazing,” said his wife Donna Mikrut. “We were all very scared. His heart failure was really slowing him down and impacting his memory. Now, my husband is on his way to enjoying his life again.”

After cancelling a trip to Niagara Falls four times in the last few years because of Dana’s health, the Sisson family is now planning a trip in 2019. Sisson says getting a new heart is better than winning the lottery.

Sisson was the 46th patient to receive a heart transplant at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in 2018, an Illinois record for the number of transplants in one year. The previous record was 45 in 1995. By the end of 2018, Northwestern Memorial Hospital had completed 56 heart transplant surgeries.

“Our mission at Northwestern Medicine is to provide the highest-quality and state-of-the-art care for all of our patients. We are, however, acutely aware that geography and access remains a huge impediment for too many patients,” said Duc Thinh Pham, MD, surgical director, Center for Advanced Heart Failure, Northwestern Memorial Hospital. “The new clinic at Central DuPage Hospital is one small way in which we can help our patients overcome obstacles to obtaining the care they need.”

Northwestern Memorial Hospital has achieved the highest in heart failure survival in Illinois and top ten in the nation, for four consecutive years, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. U.S. News & World Report's 2018-19 "Best Hospitals" report ranked Northwestern Memorial Hospital's Cardiology and Heart Surgery program among the top 10 (7th) programs in the nation and for the last 11 years, the No. 1 ranked program in Illinois and in the region.

About 5.7 million people in the United States have heart failure according to the Centers for Disease Control and the number of people who have this condition is growing. There are many causes of heart failure, including coronary artery disease, heart attack, hypertension, cardiomyopathies, abnormal heart valves and arrhythmias. Some patients may not have symptoms, while others may have symptoms that come and go. Common signs of heart failure include shortness of breath, cough, swelling in the feet and legs, rapid weight gain, decreased energy, dizziness, rapid or irregular heartbeat and chest pain or pressure.