What is heart failure?

The term “heart failure” describes a heart that is not functioning properly. It doesn’t mean the heart has stopped working, but that it’s not working as well as it’s needed to supply the body with blood and oxygen.

There are some specialized medications that can help the heart pump stronger, but sometimes this is only a short time treatment. When a child’s heart function becomes severely diminished, the heart team at Arkansas Children’s may determine the best option is a heart transplant. Though Arkansas Children’s has one of the shortest wait times for donor hearts, time is of the essence. To prevent further heart and organ failure, the doctors may determine the child needs a specialized heart pump, or ventricular assist device (VAD). VADs are mechanical pumps implanted by a heart surgeon in the operating room during open heart surgery. These devises help assist the heart in pumping blood and can prolong the lives of patients while they wait for a heart transplant. VADs can also improve quality of life for patients in heart failure.