The Ohio State University Medical Center is launching a new program to train doctors in an emerging surgical procedure which may extend and improve the lives of certain patients with one of the most serious health problems in the U.S. - congestive heart failure (CHF).

OSUMC's Cardiothoracic Surgery and Cardiology Divisions are sponsoring the program in Surgical Ventricular Restoration (SVR). The program is designed for cardiac surgeons, cardiologists, internists and other healthcare providers involved in the diagnosis and care of patients with severe CHF. The initial one-day program will be conducted in Columbus, Ohio on Thursday, November 7, and is supported by an educational grant from Somanetics Corporation.

"Given the outlook for many CHF patients - 50 percent die within five years of diagnosis - the key to combating the disease lies in cost-efficient therapies that go beyond treating its symptoms," said Robert Michler, M.D., chief of cardiothoracic surgery. "SVR is an exciting alternative because, by repairing and improving the function of the ventricle, the procedure treats the underlying cause of CHF. As a result, patients are able to better manage their condition, which in turn reduces their chances of repeated hospitalizations."

About five million people in the U.S. have CHF, and more than a half million new cases are diagnosed annually. CHF and related causes result in approximately 250,000 deaths in the U.S. each year. For people over 65, the disease is the most common cause of hospital admissions.

During the SVR operation, performed on certain CHF patients whose hearts have been damaged by a heart attack, the surgeon restores the damaged ventricle to more normal size and function. The surgeon opens the ventricle and excludes the scarred, non-contracting segments of the heart most commonly by inserting a patch, or by direct closure. The restored heart is immediately able to function more efficiently due to the improved cardiac structure.

A recent three-year study of more than 600 severe CHF patients who underwent SVR after the anterior region of their hearts were damaged by heart attacks concluded that the procedure is an effective treatment. The overall three-year survival of patients in the study was 89 percent. At last follow up, 91 percent of the patients who were tested were functionally improved or free of CHF symptoms.

"We are focused on becoming a center of excellence for training health care providers about treatments for congestive heart failure, and we are extremely enthusiastic about being the nation's first academic institution to serve as an education center for SVR," said Dr. Michler.

Those interested in participating in the program should contact OSUMC's Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery at (614) 293-5502.