Experts At Heart

For more than 25 years, physicians from Central Texas and beyond have turned to the Seton Heart Specialty Care & Transplant Center at Seton Medical Center Austin as a trusted partner in providing the most advanced cardiac care and heart failure management to their patients. Seton Medical Center Austin is now the only hospital in Central Texas to have earned Joint Commission certification for a Destination Therapy Ventricular Assist Device Program and Heart Transplant Certification from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Our Patient Coordinator is available 24/7 by calling 512-681-0500 or toll-free 877-377-3866.

Advanced Heart Failure

As part of the Seton Heart Specialty Care & Transplant Center, the Advanced Heart Failure Program helps primary physicians and their patients manage heart disease through an array of services, including:

  • Consultation with an Advanced Heart Failure/Transplant specialist
  • Follow-up visits and co-management, if desired
  • Heart Transplant and Mechanical Circulatory Support Device (VAD) treatment options
  • Patient education including: disease process, medications, diet and activity
  • Social services, palliative care, medication education, dietary counseling and financial consultation.

Our goal is to minimize symptoms and hospital stays, reduce ER visits, improve quality of life, and increase success rate. Patients who may benefit from referral are ACC/AHA Stage C or D or NYHA Class III or IV. Additionally, persons with more than two of the following risk factors should be referred for consultation:

  • AHC/ACC Stage D
  • Hemodynamic instability
  • On or being considered for inotropic therapy
  • NYHA Class III-IV HF symptoms
  • LVEF < 35%
  • Inability to walk more than one block without SOB
  • HF hospitalizations in the past six months
  • CRT non-responder
  • Lasix dose of > 1.5 mg/kg/day or dose equivalent for other loop diuretics
  • Intolerance to, dose reduction, or withdrawal of ACE-I, ARB, Beta-Blocker because of hypotension
  • BUN > 40 or CR > 1.5
  • Serum Sodium < 135
  • Considering hospice

Heart Failure Patient Manual

Download our Patient Manual for in depth information:

Ventricular Assist Devices Program

Seton Medical Center Austin is recognized for implanting ventricular assist devices (VADs). A VAD is a blood pump that assists the heart in pumping blood through the body. VADs have been used in the treatment of end-stage heart failure for over two decades as a bridge to cardiac transplantation, and more recently as permanent support or destination therapy in non-transplant candidates. Surgery is required to implant the VAD, which can be placed inside or outside the body.


Patient Stories

Heart Transplant

As the only heart transplant center in Central Texas, the Seton Heart Specialty Care and Transplant Center is at the forefront of cardiac care. We serve patients with chronic heart failure who are candidates for heart transplant and those who have already received a transplant and require follow-up care. The team performs an average of 13 heart transplants annually, with more than 85% of our adult patients surviving a year or longer after surgery. Since the program began in 1986, the team has transplanted more than 355 hearts.

Heart Transplant Process

For more in depth information, download the “Heart Handbook” provided by the International Transplant Nurses Society.

About Seton’s CRITICAL CARE Transport Team

For critically ill patients in the 11 county region surrounding Austin, there is now a new, safer alternative for transportation to a facility capable of providing advanced levels of care. Seton Healthcare Family now offers those critically ill patients a Critical Care Transport Service. Patients with life threatening complex cardiac conditions and/or lung disease requiring specialized care have an option for transport with a specially trained Critical Care team.

This team is capable of transporting critically ill patients on various forms of mechanical and ventilator-assist devices including ventricular assist devices (VADs) and extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO).

  • VADs are emerging as a promising treatment for heart failure. A VAD is surgically implanted in the chest and assists the failing heart by helping it pump more effectively. It may be recommended for a heart failure patient if he or she is not responding optimally to medical therapy and/or pacing therapy.
  • ECMO provides cardiac and respiratory support oxygen to patients whose heart and lungs are so severely diseased or damaged that they can no longer serve their function. Seton Medical Center Austin is the only hospital in Central Texas to offer ECMO support.

It is also possible for the team to institute these advanced therapies on site at the referring hospital if necessary.

The Critical Care Transport Team is comprised of a group of specially trained medical professionals, including critical care physicians, cardiologists, cardiovascular surgeons, perfusionists, respiratory therapists and critical care transport nurses. In Seton’s state-of-the-art ambulance, the team uses sophisticated equipment that monitors critical blood parameters, including venous oxygen saturation, hemoglobin, hematocrit and arterial and venous circuit line pressures for patients’ cardiopulmonary needs.

This team is trained in advanced airway and ventilator management, the delivery of inhaled nitric oxide, the use of transvenous pacemakers, intra-aortic balloon pumps, VAD’s and the transport of patients on ECMO using state of the art portable ECMO equipment. Working with paramedics, the Critical Care Transport Team brings the services of an intensive care unit to the patient to provide the safest possible transport.

Pulmonary Hypertension

For patients with pulmonary hypertension, our goal is to provide the treatment, knowledge, and assessment tools that will enable them to live as normal a lifestyle as possible. That’s why we bring together the multidisciplinary expertise of board-certified critical care pulmonologists and cardiologists to provide patients with a complete evaluation and individualized treatment plan. Our social workers, dietitians, financial counselors and specially trained registered nurses work closely with patients and their families to ensure that proper support is provided to those coping with this difficult illness. All members of the treatment team strive to work closely and maintain communication with any other physicians involved in the patient’s care.

Leadership Team

Clay A. Cauthen, MA, MD Clay A. Cauthen, MA, MD

Heart Failure and Transplant
Mary Beth Cishek, MD, ABIM, Advanced Heart Failure & TransplantMary Beth Cishek, MD, ABIM

Advanced Heart Failure & Transplant
Pamela S. Combs, PhD, RNPamela S. Combs, PhD, RN

Director of Cardiovascular Services
Cynthia ZiemanCynthia Zieman, MPP, CPCM

Business Operations Manager