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Cardiomyopathy and Heart Failure Service

heart failure cardiologists
Heart failure cardiologists (left to right) Nisha Gilotra, Steven Hsu, Edward Kasper, Ilan Wittstein, Roberta Florido and Kavita Sharma

Cardiomyopathy is a condition in which the heart’s left ventricle, the main pumping chamber, loses its ability to pump blood. While no known cure exists, the Johns Hopkins Cardiomyopathy and Heart Failure Service is dedicated to helping patients manage living with cardiomyopathy. Our goal is to empower patients to better care for themselves by improving patient understanding and family support. We aim to relieve any complicating factors, control symptoms and stop the disease's progression. We believe transplantation and left ventricular assist devices are the "court of last resort" and will do everything possible to avoid them.

Along with our medical and surgical specialists, our multidisciplinary team includes professionals from social work, dietary counseling, physical rehabilitation, educational programs and support groups. This collaboration gives our patients a well-rounded approach to heart failure care.

Services provided:

  • Our patients receive all facets of clinical care for cardiomyopathy, heart failure or cardiac transplantation
  • We implant left ventricular assist devices
  • We perform novel research programs for patients with cardiomyopathy or heart failure
  • We conduct endomyocardial biopsies

After an initial evaluation by a Johns Hopkins physician, you may be asked to undergo one or more of the following tests:

  • Biopsy — A small sample of the heart muscle or tissue may be taken and sent to a laboratory for analysis. This helps determine the extent of disease.
  • Echocardiogram — Uses ultrasound waves to image the heart’s structure and movement. This allows your doctor to determine what your ejection fraction is and to look at the function of your heart valves and heart muscle.
  • Electrocardiogram — Also called an ECG or EKG, this test records your heart's electrical activity during rest to determine abnormal heart rhythms.
  • Left heart catheterization — Determines if you have any blockages in your heart and helps to evaluate the pressures in the heart. This test involves inserting a thin plastic tube through a blood vessel until it reaches the heart; injecting a dye into the blood vessels; and taking X-rays to assess the heart’s structure and function.
  • Metabolic stress test — this is an exercise test that measures the amount of oxygen (peak VO2) you consume during exercise.  It allows your doctor to determine how limited your heart makes you and if you would benefit from a heart transplant.
  • Pressure-volume analysis — Measures the amount of blood flow from heart during each beat. Johns Hopkins clinicians developed this test, and the results of it can help your doctor identify the type of cardiomyopathy you may have.
  • Right heart catheterization — This evaluates the pressures in your heart and lungs and measures the amount of blood flowing through your body.  Your doctor may change therapies or take more fluid off of you based on the results of this test.
  • X-ray — Helps physicians to see if the heart is enlarged.