Heart Failure, Cardiomyopathy and Heart Transplant Program

Norton Children’s Heart Institute is Kentucky and Southern Indiana’s only complete resource for children with cardiomyopathy, heart failure and conditions requiring a heart transplant. Our cardiologists are board certified and fellowship trained to care for your child. Our physicians also are faculty at the University of Louisville School of Medicine — they are at the forefront of new treatments, training the next generation of heart failure specialists. The experience and expertise of Norton Children’s Heart Institute physicians make them leaders in positive outcomes for children with cardiomyopathy and heart failure.

As little intervention as possible — without leaving home

It’s our goal to help children recover from cardiomyopathy and other types of heart failure with as little intervention as possible. Some kids simply need close observation and time to recover, while other kids may require a heart transplant for the best chance of living a full life. Regardless of the level of care your child needs, we will not send your child out of state for care — we perform all diagnostic testing, surgeries and follow-up care at Norton Children’s Hospital.

Advancing care with a history of excellence

In 1986, Norton Children’s Hospital became the second facility in the nation to perform a heart transplant in an infant. Norton Children’s Heart Institute, affiliated with the University of Louisville, is the only program performing pediatric heart transplants in Kentucky and Southern Indiana. Since that groundbreaking heart transplant in 1986, we’ve continued to grow our program. We performed 10 heart transplants in 2018.

The right kind of care for your child

Our providers from Norton Children’s and UofL Physicians are skilled at treating serious health conditions linked to heart failure, including muscular dystrophy and neuromuscular disorders. You can draw strength, comfort and confidence from our highly trained specialists, including:

  • Pediatric cardiothoracic surgeons
  • Pediatric transplant surgeons
  • Pediatric cardiologists
    • Fetal cardiologists
    • Adult congenital heart cardiologists
    • Heart failure/heart transplant cardiologists
    • Pediatric cardiac catheterization cardiologists
    • Pediatric electrophysiologists
  • Pediatric critical care physicians
  • Cardiovascular anesthesiologists
  • Cardiac critical care nurses
  • Cardiac nurse practitioners
  • Critical care pharmacists
  • Child life specialists
  • Diagnostic imaging specialists
  • Dietitians
  • Family support team
  • Genetic counselors
  • Psychologists
  • Social workers

What causes heart failure in children?

  • Congenital heart disease – This is a collective term for a number of heart defects a baby can be born with. Some children have corrective surgery, but their heart can give out over time, such as children with only one ventricle. When their ventricle does not function well anymore, a heart transplant may be necessary.
  • Cardiomyopathy – This condition occurs when there is something wrong with the heart muscle and it cannot pump blood through the body the way it should. Kids can be born with cardiomyopathies or acquire them from certain diseases or viruses. Types of cardiomyopathies include an enlarged, floppy heart muscle (dilated cardiomyopathy), a thick heart muscle (hypertrophic cardiomyopathy) or a stiff heart muscle (restricted cardiomyopathy).

Diagnosing heart failure and cardiomyopathy

We use advanced diagnostic tools, including echocardiograms, fetal echocardiograms, cardiac MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) and stress testing, to detect heart disease in babies and children.

Using precise diagnostic tools and their years of experience, our cardiologists will determine the best treatment for your child. This may include simply following your child over time or prescribing medications. Some kids with severe heart failure may need intravenous medicine in the hospital, a ventricular assist device (VAD) or a heart transplant.

Ventricular assist devices

Norton Children’s Heart Institute has a strong track record using VADs as a bridge to heart transplantation. We have a 100 percent survival rate using VAD as a bridge to transplant (as of 2018).

Learn more about VADs.

Why Norton Children’s Heart Institute for cardiomyopathy, heart failure and heart transplant care?

  • Norton Children’s Hospital has been a pioneer in pediatric heart transplant surgery. The hospital was the second site for a successful infant heart transplant in the country and the first in Kentucky, performed in 1986.
  • Our program has the oldest living pediatric transplant patients, three individuals who received transplants in 1987.
  • Highly trained specialists close to home. Our team includes specialists in cardiomyopathy and neuromuscular disease, among others. Our muscular dystrophy clinics provide a multidisciplinary approach with advanced imaging and more for children with cardiomyopathies.
  • Our program has a 100 percent survival rate using ventricular assist devices (VADs) as a bridge to heart transplantation (as of 2018).
  • Our heart transplant team includes an infectious disease physician, transplant psychologist, the Hearts & Hands Care Team, and other caregivers to address the physical, intellectual, emotional, social and spiritual needs of patients and their families before and after surgery.
  • We offer support systems for children and families waiting for heart transplants, including the Brave Hearts program.
  • We have the only pediatric heart genetics program in Kentucky.
  • We are approved by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, and work closely with health insurers to help families.
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Contact Us

For more information on services or to schedule an appointment with the Norton Children’s Heart Institute:

(502) 629-2929

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