With the U.S. population aging and improved survival after heart attack, heart failure prevalence continues to climb. At the same time, major advances in diagnosis and treatment have converted the diagnosis of heart failure from that of an extremely high mortality rate to one of cautious hope, with many patients living long and active lives after diagnosis. Therapeutic options for patients with advanced heart failure, including heart transplant and ventricular assist devices (VADs), have also become increasingly complex, requiring substantial technical proficiency.

To meet this rising need in healthcare, Penn Medicine cardiologists are leaders in a new cardiology subspecialty, Advanced Heart Failure and Transplant Cardiology.  Seven of the nine Heart Failure and Transplant doctors at Penn are now certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) in the new Advanced Heart Failure and Transplant Cardiology specialty.  Only 225 doctors are certified world-wide.

The new specialty was created because of the rapid progress in treatment options for patients with heart failure and the ever growing need to monitor, assess, and advance these new technologies for patients.

“With this new certification, Penn Medicine cardiologists lead the way in providing optimal, technically advanced yet cost-effective care for patients with heart failure,” said Mariell Jessup, MD, Medical Director of the Penn Heart and Vascular Center and a co-author on the original proposal to establish the new secondary subspecialty in Cardiology.

While most heart failure patients will continue to be managed by general internists or cardiologists, the new subspecialists will serve as consultants for patients with worsening heart failure and those who need more advanced care. Advanced Heart Failure and Transplant Cardiologists will also play a critical role as leaders of specialized services, such as transplant centers and heart failure clinics. They will be cardiologists with experience in managing the entire spectrum of patients with heart failure and proficiency in the expanding range of treatment techniques.

Among those awarded specialty certification in transplant cardiology and treatment of advanced heart failure at Penn Medicine are:

For the first five years, cardiologists who can document high-level experience in Advanced Heart Failure and Transplant Cardiology will be qualified to sit for the certifying examination. After that, one-year accredited training programs will be available for physicians after they have earned their board certification in Cardiovascular Disease through the ABIM. The first qualifying exam was held in November 2010.

The Heart Failure and Transplantation program at Penn Medicine offers comprehensive care for patients with heart failure and more treatment options than anywhere else in the region. From early prevention strategies to end-stage treatment options, Penn’s experienced heart failure specialists offer every option to help patients live longer, healthier lives.