10 Best Children's Hospitals for Heart Care 2013

Survival rates for tricky heart surgeries, experience in treating heart problems, and a robust research program were among the factors that helped put these hospitals on top.

1. (tie) Boston Children's Hospital

The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia

Cardiologists at Boston Children's Hospital have developed a promising new strategy for treating hypoplastic left heart syndrome (HLHS), a condition in which half the heart fails to develop properly. Called staged left ventricle recruitment, this relatively new approach leaves patients with two working ventricles rather than just one. The hospital's Heart Center is also working to improve treatments for pulmonary vein stenosis, Shone?s syndrome, and Tetralogy of Fallot.

1. (tie) The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia

It's at the forefront of fetal and infant heart research. In addition to pioneering advances such as the placement of a stent (a device to open a blockage) in the heart of a fetus, doctors at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia recently developed the IMPACT system, for babies with heart defects at risk for dying during birth. It ensures that cardiac specialists are ready and waiting to provide treatment for a baby with severe congenital heart disease during the critical moments after delivery. Other research areas: sudden cardiac death in children and the use of ventricular-assist devices, which partially or completely replace the function of a failing heart.

3. Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center

In what may be the biggest breakthrough in muscular dystrophy in years, a patient at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center is believed to have been the first in the nation with Duchenne muscular dystrophy to have a device implanted to help his heart pump blood to the body long-term (the heart muscle gradually weakens in patients with the condition). What's more, the hospital's surgeons also performed one of the first total artificial-heart transplants in the United States in a child or a teenager.

4. New York-Presbyterian Morgan Stanley/Komansky Children's Hospital, New York City

The hospital successfully pioneered heart transplants in high-risk patients who are not offered the procedure elsewhere, including children with severe, elevated pulmonary resistance. The facility is also a transplant specialist for children with end-stage congestive heart failure due to cardiomyopathy.

5. Children's Healthcare of Atlanta

One of the founders of the first pediatric nanomedicine center in North America, Children's Healthcare of Atlanta aims to develop new approaches to diagnose and treat pediatric heart disease using molecular-size nanoparticles.

6. Children's Hospital Colorado, Aurora

Being home to one of the world's largest pediatric heart-tissue banks helps doctors at Children's Hospital Colorado investigate the molecular and mechanical changes that occur in children with heart failure. The hospital's research in organ and heart transplants has led to new ways of using the immune system to reduce the likelihood of the body rejecting a transplanted heart.

7. Children's Hospital of Wisconsin, Milwaukee

To decrease wait times for heart transplants, Children's Hospital of Wisconsin pioneered the use of a new system to match donors and recipients. The hospital also started Project ADAM, which helps supply defibrillators to schools and trains staff on how to respond to a sudden heart attack.

8. Primary Children's Medical Center, Salt Lake City

The hospital's Cardiac Genotype-Phenotype Core Project is uncovering the harmful genes involved in heart defects, allowing development of preventive strategies and lifesaving therapies.

9. Nationwide Children's Hospital, Columbus, Ohio

Thanks to a five-year government grant, Nationwide Children's Hospital is studying how adult heart disease starts in childhood, paving the way for treatments earlier in life. The hospital also has expertise in blood conservation ("bloodless surgery") and a mechanical-assist device for heart-transplant patients.

10. St. Louis Children's Hospital -- Washington University

The hospital is a partner in the Children's Discovery Institute, which is studying tissue regeneration, nutrition, and human genomics to provide new approaches for the cure and prevention of heart defects.

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