LOUISVILLE, Ky. (Dec. 4, 2015) – While often it is assumed that adults are the only ones who suffer from heart failure, the condition also affects infants, children and teens. In Kentucky, more than 300 children are estimated to have heart failure.
The term “heart failure” describes a heart that is not functioning properly. It does not mean that the heart has stopped working, but that it is not working as well as it should.
Thanks to the technology and expertise now available with the advanced heart failure program at Norton Children’s Hospital, children do not have to travel outside of the state for care. The program is led by Joshua Sparks, M.D., who has advanced training in heart failure and transplantation and is a pediatric cardiologist at University of Louisville Physicians.
In children, heart failure can have several causes. Most common is a heart defect that exists at birth. However, children with normal hearts also can develop heart failure due to heart muscle issues, or cardiomyopathy, from infections or inherited or metabolic conditions. Sometimes heart failure arises with no clear cause.
“Caring for children with end-stage heart failure requires a unique approach,” said Dr. Sparks, who also is medical director for the advanced heart failure program at Norton Children’s Hospital. “In Louisville, we have all of the parts in place to provide state-of-the-art treatment to children with end-stage heart failure, including the placement of mechanical heart pumps, or VADs, and heart transplantation.”
Norton Children’s Hospital, working with specialists from UofL Physicians, is home to the only pediatric heart failure and transplant program in the commonwealth of Kentucky. The program is made up of a specialized team that includes a heart failure cardiologist, electrophysiologist, interventional cardiologist, cardiovascular surgeon, transplant surgeon, cardiovascular anesthesiologist, intensive care physicians, specially trained pharmacist, social worker, child life specialist, specially trained nurses, a family support team and a rehabilitation specialist.