Public Release: 

Northwestern Memorial helping to define best treatment for congestive heart failure

STICH trial enrolling patients at 90 leading centers around the world

Northwestern Memorial HealthCare

CHICAGO -- Northwestern Memorial Hospital (NMH) is the only Chicago-area hospital participating in a National Institutes of Health sponsored research study to find a definitive answer to whether medical therapy or surgery is the better option for treating congestive heart failure. In addition, the study will compare coronary artery bypass surgery alone to bypass surgery plus a new procedure called surgical ventricular restoration to see if the combined procedure increases long-term survival and decreases cardiac hospitalization.

The STICH (Surgical Treatments of Ischemic Heart Failure) trial is a worldwide study that will enroll about 2,800 patients at 90 leading medical centers around the world. "Heart failure affects about 5 million Americans and is the most common reason patients seek medical treatment at hospitals," says NMH's lead investigator, Mihai Gheorghiade, M.D., associate chief of the division of cardiology at Northwestern Memorial Hospital and professor of medicine at the Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University. "Although we've made significant progress with medical therapies for heart failure, the mortality and hospitalizations continue to be unacceptably high. Cardiac transplantation is an option for patients with very severe heart failure, but very few patients (fewer than 2000 per year) receive this treatment due to the small number of donors. The present study is exploring the potential benefits of a new and revolutionary procedure, ventricular reconstruction."

Participants in the research study will have a cardiac MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) to produce a picture of their heart's structure and function. "Cardiac MRI is making a critical difference in our ability to treat heart failure patients. We can now pinpoint exactly where the problem lies, making it possible to identify candidates and treat the problem with surgical ventricular restoration," says Keith Horvath, M.D., a cardiovascular surgeon at NMH who is the surgical co-investigator of the study.

Surgical ventricular restoration repairs valve abnormalities, decreases the size of the left ventricle and restores the normal geometry of the pumping chamber to improve the heart's ability to pump blood to the body. "A healthy ventricle looks like a football, elliptical in shape, while a damaged ventricle expands to look like a round basketball," explains Dr. Horvath. "We use a soft and flexible patch and a shaping device to reshape the ventricle. The idea is to restore the diseased heart rather than just treating the symptoms of heart failure."

CHF occurs when the heart is unable to pump enough blood to meet the body's demand for oxygen and other nutrients. This problem often results from the body's effort to compensate for heart muscle damage caused by a heart attack. To compensate for the damage, the heart gradually enlarges, eventually causing inefficient heart function and failure.

To learn more about the trial, visit www.stichtrial.org or contact Northwestern Memorial's physician referral department at 1-877-926-4664.

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About Northwestern Memorial Hospital
Northwestern Memorial Hospital (NMH) is one of the country's premier academic medical centers and is the primary teaching hospital of Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine. Northwestern Memorial and its Prentice Women's Hospital have 720 beds and more than 1,200 affiliated physicians and 5,000 employees. Providing care in a state-of-the-art facility, the hospital is recognized for its outstanding clinical and surgical advancements in such areas as cardiothoracic and vascular care, gastroenterology, neurology and neurosurgery, oncology, organ and bone marrow transplantation, and women's health.

Northwestern Memorial was ranked as the nation's 5th best hospital by the 2002 Consumer Checkbook survey of the nation's physicians and is listed in the majority of specialties in this year's US News & World Report's issue of "America's Best Hospitals." NMH is also cited as one of the "100 Best Companies for Working Mothers" by Working Mother magazine and has been chosen by Chicagoans year after year as their "most preferred hospital" in National Research Corporation's annual survey.

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