Heart Failure, Cardiomyopathy and Heart Transplant Program

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Norton Children’s Heart Institute, affiliated with UofL School of Medicine, 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.

All the Care Your Child Needs in the Same System

Regardless of the level of care your child needs, 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 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 7 heart transplants in 2019.

The Right Kind of Care for Your Child

Norton Children’s providers are skilled in 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.

Learn more about VADs.

Why Choose Norton Children’s Heart Institute

  • Norton Children’s Hospital has been a pioneer in pediatric cardiothoracic surgery, performing Kentucky’s first pediatric heart transplant in 1986 and becoming the second site in the United States to perform an infant heart transplant.
  • The American Board of Thoracic Surgery has certified our cardiothoracic surgeons in congenital heart surgery.
  • The Adult Congenital Heart Association has accredited Norton Children’s Heart Adult Congenital Heart Disease Program as the only comprehensive care center in Kentucky and Indiana treating adults born with a heart defect.
  • More than 5,000 children a year visit Norton Children’s Heart Institute for advanced heart care.
  • Norton Children’s Heart Institute has offices across Kentucky and Southern Indiana to bring quality pediatric heart care closer to home.
  • The Jennifer Lawrence Cardiac Intensive Care Unit (CICU) at Norton Children’s Hospital is the largest dedicated CICU in Kentucky, equipped with 17 private rooms and the newest technology available for heart care.
The Adult Congenital Heart Association has recognized Norton Children's Heart Institute for its expertise treating adult congenital heart disease.

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