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Corrigan Minehan Heart Center Overview

Since the 1970s, the Heart Failure and Cardiac Transplant Program at the Massachusetts General Hospital Corrigan Minehan Heart Center has provided patients with the most clinically advanced care by being at the forefront of new heart failure medications and devices, including the development of minimally invasive surgical techniques.

A multidisciplinary team made up of cardiologists, cardiac surgeons, transplant surgeons, nurse practitioners and nurses work together to determine the best line of treatment for every patient. Other health care professionals, such as nutritionists, physical therapists and pharmacists, also contribute to the heart failure patient’s care. Together this team discusses the medical approach to treating patients with severe heart failure. When needed, they also determine appropriate surgical treatment, such as heart transplantation.

If a patient is a candidate for heart transplantation, the same team of physicians is available every step of the way, both before and after transplant. The Heart Failure and Cardiac Transplant team also consults with psychiatrists and social workers who have particular expertise in the treatment of advanced heart disease to ease the process and relieve stressors.

Conditions We Treat

Specialists within the Heart Failure and Cardiac Transplant Program at the Massachusetts General Hospital Corrigan Minehan Heart Center use advanced therapies to treat patients with congestive heart failure and other conditions that might require a cardiac transplant. All of our physicians are experts in diagnosing and treating heart failure, but also are well-versed in treating the following complex conditions:

Treatments for Complex Heart Conditions

Our physicians are leaders in treating complex heart conditions or any condition that requires a cardiac transplant. For example, our team is familiar with heart transplantation for patients with amyloidosis, a condition that impairs the function of multiple organs and demands the input of several medical subspecialties. Because of the breadth of our experience, complex patients receive the best possible treatment outcome.

Our cardiac surgeons are also experts in the use of ventricular-assist devices (VADs) either as destination therapy (an alternative to transplantation) or as a bridge while awaiting a donor organ. Physicians at Mass General performed the first mitral valve repair in the United States on the SMMART trial, a study funded by the National Institutes of Health to determine whether mitral valve repair can stabilize or reverse dilated cardiomyopathy.

Medical Treatment

Our cardiologists work closely with patients and referring physicians to introduce preventive and early treatment measures to delay or avoid hospitalization. These advanced medical treatments include:

  • Lifestyle and nutrition education
  • Managing blood pressure
  • Prescribing activity and exercise programs
  • Medications designed to decrease the workload on the heart and prevent the progression of the disease
  • Restricting salt and fluid intake
  • Measures to maintain a balanced diet

Surgical Procedures for Heart Failure

Depending on the cause and severity of heart failure, surgery may be required for some patients. Our physicians are experts in treating patients using complex or combination surgical procedures. Surgical options might include:

When appropriate, innovative medical treatments, often using advanced technology such as home telemetry or continuous ambulatory hemodynamic monitoring, is recommended to help improve a patient’s well-being.

Research Initiatives

All of our physicians are on the faculty of Harvard Medical School, which means they not only have a mission to provide the best possible patient care but also a commitment to educate the next generation of medical professionals and develop innovations in heart failure treatment.

Our patients also have access to the most advanced research and innovative medical therapies and devices within clinical trials. Part of a network of sophisticated centers for heart failure research, created by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, Mass General is a regional research center for high quality and rapid clinical research in heart failure.

Mass General is one of the few select centers in the nation to be awarded a grant from the National Institutes of Health in the area of heart transplantation. Our researchers are currently studying how to decrease organ rejection in patients who are highly sensitized (patients who have a lot of antibodies, making it difficult to match appropriate organs).

Clinical Trials

Heart Failure and Transplant FAQs

What Is Heart Failure?
Heart failure—or congestive heart failure—is more accurately described as the weakening of a heart. During heart failure, the heart is not functioning normally, limiting its ability to pump blood—and the oxygen and nutrients it includes—throughout the body. With malnourished cells throughout the body, heart failure leads to health complications, such as fatigue, shortness of breath and difficulty maintaining a regular lifestyle.
What Is a Heart Transplant?
A heart transplant replaces your failing heart with a healthy heart supplied by an organ donor. This open-heart surgery procedure is highly involved and recommended by your healthcare professionals when deemed the best course of action for your situation.
What Heart Diseases Require a Heart Transplant?

Heart failure can lead to the recommendation of a heart transplant. Heart failure can be brought on by a variety of heart diseases. The most common reason for heart transplants include:

  • Genetic heart defects
  • Heart attack
  • Arrhythmias (irregular heartbeats)
  • Viral infections
  • Heart valve disease
  • High blood pressure (also of the lungs)
  • Alcoholism or drug use
  • Cardiomyopathy (enlarged heart)
  • Anemia (low red blood cell count)
  • Chronic lung diseases
Can You Get a Heart Transplant with Congestive Heart Failure?
Congestive heart failure leading to a high probability of death in the patient within one to two years is cause for a heart transplant. Doctors will typically exhaust every other avenue of treatment before recommending a heart transplant.
Does a Heart Transplant Cure Heart Disease?
Replacing a failing heart with a healthy donor heart will often dramatically improve heart failure symptoms, sometimes eliminating them completely. A heart transplant may come with its own side effects.
How Many Heart Transplants Per Year Are Performed?
According to government data, the number of heart transplants performed per year in the United States has steadily increased and is now over 3,000 per year.
How Long Do Heart Transplants Take?
A routine heart transplant surgery often takes four hours, although complicated surgeries can take longer. During surgery, machines ensure blood continues circulating through the body.