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Advanced Heart Failure Program

About Heart Failure

Heart Failure can make every day a struggle, from taking medications to missing out on the things that give life joy and meaning. This chronic disease develops when the heart can no longer meet the pumping needs of the body. It can be caused by heart attacks, diseases that affect the heart muscles, poorly functioning valves, or genetic problems.

When the heart can no longer pump properly, most of the body’s systems are affected. Patients become short of breath with exertion and even at rest, the legs swell, appetite is poor, and one feels no energy to live life. In its early stages, the symptoms of heart failure can be managed with lifestyle changes and medication. As heart failure advances, treatment options become more complex. 

Advanced Heart Failure

The Advanced Heart Failure Program at Florida Hospital Pepin Heart Institute works with patients to create individualized treatment plans for this debilitating and life-threatening disease. This includes the latest medicine, pacemakers that pump both sides of the heart to make it more efficient, and surgical interventions.

Board-certified Advanced Heart Failure and Cardiac Transplantation cardiologist, John Schmittner, MD, and Board-certified cardiothoracic surgeon, Rozales Swanson, MD, lead a team that helps patients navigate the difficult decisions, from diagnosis to treatment to rehabilitation.

Our team focuses not only on the patient’s Heart Failure, but also how this chronic condition affects their family, their profession, and their outlook on life. 

An Experienced Team

Florida Hospital Pepin Heart Institute’s patient care experts deliver a cohesive and comprehensive plan that works for each patient. Advanced Heart Failure and mechanical circulatory support demands a team of trained professionals who work together to stabilize, treat, and better your condition. This includes:

  • Advanced Heart Failure cardiologists
  • Cardiac imaging specialists, electrophysiologists, interventional cardiologist
  • Cardiovascular surgeons
  • Nurse practitioners
  • Clinic nursing team
  • Nutritionists
  • Physical therapists and rehab specialists

Ventricular Assist Device

Historically, a heart transplant has been the only cure for heart failure when medications fail to reverse the disease process. However, very few people qualify for transplant, the waiting list is long, and the number of hearts available are limited. Some patients would rather not undergo the risks of transplant as well. 

Our team can offer another advanced surgical solution, the VAD (ventricular assist device). This sophisticated, implantable pump allows the damaged heart to restore its function and move blood to the body and vital organs. We offer the HeartMate 3™, the most advanced VAD, which not only can extend life, but can restore the quality of living to the patient that heart failure has taken away.

We evaluate patients’ Advanced Heart Failure and help them decide what choices are best for them—from medications to intravenous infusions of drugs to help their heart function to transplant and VAD. And if you already have a VAD or transplant from another institution, our team can take care of you and your family’s concerns as well.

Patient Plus Family-Centered Care

Heart Failure demands a team approach, and that includes you and your family. We encourage family members to come to office visits and engage in your recovery. Spouses worry about you, and children worry about parents. We want questions and concerns to be asked, and we strive to provide answers.

Heart Failure affects your entire body and requires the help of additional specialists including kidney doctors, cardiac rehabilitation, home nursing, and pharmacy. Our staff can help you keep track of your medications and facilitate other care visits.


We commit to you that we are available through clinic or phone with our team 24/7. Every patient deserves this, and it is our calling to provide it. Our clinic nurses are skilled in answering your questions and helping you over the phone and will get you into clinic without weeks of waiting.

Contact Us

To schedule an appointment with Dr. John Schmittner, Medical Director of Advanced Heart Failure and Mechanical Circulatory Support, call (813) 615-8088.

To reach Florida Hospital Pepin Heart Institute’s Advanced Heart Failure Program, call (813) 55-HEART ext. 3.