Our doctors are pursuing better ways to manage heart failure in children. Our research includes the following.

Using Biomarkers to Improve Diagnosis and Treatment

When the heart begins to fail, the body increases production of biomarkers called B-type natriuretic peptides (BNPs). For years, doctors have used a test to measure BNPs in adults with heart problems. This is a quick, inexpensive way to find out if a person’s heart is failing. Our research showed that this test also works in children. Now we are investigating whether a patient’s BNP levels can predict how they respond to heart failure treatments.

Studying Health Conditions That May Contribute to Heart Failure

Many children with heart problems also suffer from sleep apnea, iron and vitamin deficiencies and other health problems. Dr. Yuk Law and his colleagues are investigating whether these conditions contribute to heart failure – and if treating them can improve outcomes for children with heart failure.

A New Way to Protect Organs During Surgery

Heart surgery can injure the heart, kidneys and other organs by temporarily stopping blood from flowing to them. Dr. Yuk Law and his colleagues are studying whether a practice called ischemic preconditioning can minimize this injury.

Ischemic preconditioning involves restricting blood flow to a leg or other body part right before surgery. This sends the organs a signal that blood flow is about to stop and gives them a chance to prepare. Law’s team completed a clinical trial that investigated whether the heart and kidneys function better in patients who receive this conditioning before surgery than in patients who do not.

Investigating Ways to Prevent Sudden Cardiac Death

Dr. Jack Salerno is working to prevent deaths from sudden, unexpected cardiac arrest. Salerno partners with the Nick of Time Foundation to do heart screenings in high schools. The screenings are tests that help doctors and families know if a child might have a heart problem and needs to see a heart doctor.

Salerno also uses the screenings to gather detailed information about children’s hearts. This information will help him understand which factors put children at risk of sudden cardiac death. This will help him identify ways to prevent them from suffering cardiac arrest.