What You Should Know About Heart Failure and Cardiomyopathy

Skopicki Hal Skopicki, MD, PhD
Co-Director, Stony Brook University Heart Institute; Chief, Cardiology and Director
Heart Failure and Cardiomyopathy Center

Stony Brook’s Heart Failure and Cardiomyopathy Center and Ventricular Assist Device Program have been widely recognized for excellent outcomes, state-of-the-art diagnosis and treatment, and innovative research efforts that are helping many patients — even those with advanced conditions — feel better and live longer.

What is cardiomyopathy?
Cardiomyopathy is a term for a variety of diseases of the heart muscle that can cause a weakening of the heart function, which may ultimately lead to heart failure. In heart failure, the heart is not able to pump the amount of blood the body needs, leading to serious health complications.

What is key for patients to know?
With the proper diet, exercise and the right selection of medications, patients with heart failure can lead long and symptom-free lives. Even patients with severe or advanced heart failure have options, including mechanical assist devices, transplantation and/or experimental medications. At Stony Brook, we help patients and their families with managing the disease. Together, after establishing a treatment plan, we monitor how well it’s working and troubleshoot problems or symptoms before they become advanced or even life threatening. The key is to establish a close working relationship with a cardiologist and care team that you trust.

What services does the Center offer?
On an outpatient basis, we provide comprehensive diagnosis and evaluation, and actively work with our patients to manage their heart failure around-the-clock.

We also offer:

  • Evaluation for specialized pacemakers, defibrillators and heart failure monitoring devices 
  • Evaluation and implantation of mechanical assist devices for patients with advanced heart failure
  • Access to highly selective clinical trials with promising therapies and devices months or even years before they are widely available

For patients who are hospitalized or transferred to Stony Brook Heart Institute, our inpatient Heart Failure Consultation Service is available— working with the patient’s personal cardiologist or physician — to optimize care.

How does the ventricular assist device (VAD) help patients?
A VAD is a surgically implanted mechanical pump designed to support heart function and blood flow in people who have severely weakened hearts. VADs can be implanted as short-term “bridge therapy” until a heart transplant can be performed or as long-term “destination therapy” if heart transplantation is not an option for the patient. A testament to the high-quality care of our patients, Stony Brook's VAD program is the only on Long Island to be continuously certified by The Joint Commission since 2011. 

What do the Center's numerous recognitions and awards mean for patients?
They help attest to the quality of care we deliver. Along with recognition of our doctors as top performers on Long Island, we’ve recently received the 2020 American Heart Association’s Get With The Guidelines® Heart Failure Gold Plus Quality Achievement Award. The award recognized the hospital's commitment to ensuring that patients with heart failure receive the most appropriate treatment according to nationally recognized, research-based guidelines founded in the latest scientific evidence. The goal is speeding recovery and reducing hospital readmissions for heart failure patients.

How do patients and physicians access the program?
To schedule a consultation with a heart failure specialist, call (631) 444-9600. To inquire about clinical trials, call (631) 444-4691. For information about the Heart Institute and its many services, call (631) 44-HEART (444-3278) or visit heart.stonybrookmedicine.edu.

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For an appointment with one of our cardiology experts, call (631) 44-HEART (444-3278)