Heart Failure Program

Heart failure in children is complicated and often has very different causes and treatments than seen in adult patients. These children require specialized care to prevent, diagnose and manage the condition. That’s why, in 2006, a team of dedicated pediatric heart specialists created the Pediatric Heart Failure Program at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin.

The team uses a multidisciplinary approach, taking advantage of all the expertise in the Herma Heart Center and throughout Children’s Hospital, to provide family-centered care for children with heart disease and heart failure, as well as adults with congenital heart disease (present at birth).

Causes of heart failure in children

It is widely recognized that heart failure is a huge problem in adults, most commonly as the result of coronary artery disease and chronic hypertension. In children, the causes (and therefore the treatments) of heart failure are more diverse than seen with adults. Some of the most common causes are congenital heart disease, inherited or acquired cardiomyopathies, muscular dystrophy and other neuromuscular disorders, and auto-immune or infectious myocarditis. Herma Heart Center has specialized programs for treating these and other causes of heart failure in children.

Congenital heart disease is an especially complicated diagnosis as it relates to heart failure in children. In some patients, congenital heart disease causes heart failure. In other patients, heart failure can be a complication of circulation-improving treatments for congenital heart disease. In these cases, the term “heart failure” is misleading because the heart actually may be working well; it is the related heart and lung problems that cause the symptoms.

Our multidisciplinary approach to pediatric heart failure allows us to bring a coordinated team of experts together to make the right diagnosis and provide the safest, most effective approach to treatment. Our patients and their families are part of this team, all working openly and honestly together to provide the best care for your child.