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Research

Patients who are treated at the Pediatric Heart Center at CHAM have access to investigators who are pioneering cutting-edge therapies for childhood diseases of the heart.

Recent publications from the Center include investigations into the:

  • Effect of linear growth on neurodevelopmental outcome in infants with a single ventricle.
  • Best way to treat a patient with a tachyarrhythmia.
  • Optimal time to use a machine to support a child suffering from end-stage heart failure.

We are currently focused on research to:

Decrease Radiation Exposure During Cardiac Catheterization and Electrophysiology Studies
The Pediatric Hybrid Catheterization Laboratory at CHAM is a state-of-the-art facility with a world-class team of physicians and staff equipped to perform the full range of therapies available to treat congenital heart defects and arrhythmias in children and adults. Our team has developed protocols that decrease the amount of X-ray irradiation a patient receives during these complex procedures. We have published several peer-reviewed articles demonstrating up to a 90 percent decrease in the radiation dose that patients are exposed to during such procedures as ablation for a fast heart rhythm, closure of a hole in the heart, and opening of a narrow valve using an inflatable balloon.

Evaluate the Best Treatments for Babies with Congenital Heart Disease and Heart Failure
CHAM takes a team approach to the diagnosis and treatment of babies with heart disease. Our investigators have recently published several articles about the best way to feed these infants, what factors affect their growth, and what considerations should go into the decision to offer them a heart transplant or artificial heart. One recent publication showed the importance of linear growth on the neurodevelopmental progression of a baby with a single ventricle.

Improve Outcomes After Heart Transplantation
The Pediatric Heart Transplant Program at CHAM is one of seven centers participating in a multi-center trial sponsored by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), and the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) to evaluate the effect of HLA antibodies on how children fare after transplantation. This study is helping doctors understand the best ways to treat children who may be at risk for rejection of a new heart because they have HLA antibodies in their blood that increase the immune system’s reaction against the donor heart. This project is also studying whether social media technology can improve communication between the transplant team and patients and their parents, and thus make the immune suppression medications more effective to treat these antibodies.

The doctors and nurses in the Pediatric Heart Transplant Program have also been integral members of the international Pediatric Heart Transplant Study group since it started in 1995.
As part of our participation, doctors at CHAM were involved in writing the recent guidelines, developed by the International Heart and Lung Transplant Society, for the treatment of pediatric heart transplant recipients and pediatric patients with heart failure.

Find a Potentially More Effective Treatment for Kawasaki Disease
The pediatric cardiologists and infectious disease specialists at CHAM are participating in a consortium of physicians who have come together to investigate the effects of a new drug called etanercept for the treatment of Kawasaki disease. Kawasaki disease is an illness that can cause inflammation of the arteries leading to the heart. The inflammation causes scarring in the coronary arteries—in rare cases resulting in a fatal heart attack.

Etanercept is designed to decrease inflammation of the coronary arteries. The goal of the study is to determine if etanercept makes children with Kawasaki disease less likely to have damage and scarring in the arteries and thus decrease their risk for heart attack. Our specialists are also participating in a multi-center international registry designed to describe what happens to children with Kawasaki disease treated all over the world.

Investigate the Causes of and Treatments for Pediatric Cardiomyopathy
The Pediatric Heart Failure Program at CHAM has a long-standing interest in the diagnosis and treatment of children with all forms of cardiomyopathies, which are diseases of the heart muscle. We are participating in an NIH/NHLBI-funded multi-center study looking at the genes that may cause cardiomyopathy. We are also investigating what kinds of tests best predict which patients are at risk for getting sicker and which patients will improve. These studies are helping doctors make decisions about how and when advanced treatments like heart transplantation should be pursued.

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