What is heart failure?
Heart failure is when the heart muscle weakens and cannot pump blood to the circulation adequately. Sometimes you may not show any heart failure symptoms, and at other times include getting tired from normal activities and feeling short-winded.
If you have a weakened heart muscle, you may feel some of the following symptoms, which are evidence of heart failure:
- Getting tired with normal activities
- Feeling short-winded
- Needing extra pillows to prop yourself up in order to sleep
- Swelling in feet and ankles
- Coughing frothy phlegm
Someone who has heart failure my exhibit one or all of these symptoms, or maybe even none at all. This depends on the person’s overall heart health and whether it is in a weakened state. If you think that you or a loved one is experience HF, call a doctor immediately.
Heart Failure can be diagnosed with several different types of tests such as:
Your doctor may also recommend a cardiac catheterization to determine why the muscle is weak.
The Heart Failure Center at LifeBridge Health Cardiovascular Institute can teach you what kind of heart failure you have and why it happened. Some reasons for a weakened heart muscle include:
- High blood pressure
- Coronary artery disease/heart attack
- Toxic (alcohol or drug-induced)
- Stress reaction
- Family history
If you have HF, you are at risk for developing:
- Abnormal heart rhythms
- Kidney disease
- Liver disease
- Anemia (low blood count)
- Blood clots
The team members at the Heart Failure Center provide comprehensive services to patients suffering from heart failure. For more information call 410-601-WELL (9355).
It is important to know that you are not alone, and it takes a team of people to help you get better. The Heart Failure Center at the LifeBridge Health Cardiovascular Institute can help. We work in collaboration with your heart doctor and primary care provider to provide the education and support you need. Our goal is to prevent visits to the emergency department or hospital admissions.
People with HF are on several different medications to help the heart such as:
- Beta blockers
- Angiotensin Converting Enzyme Inhibitors (ACEI)
- Angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs)
- Aldosterone Antagonists
Other meds may include:
For additional information about these medications and how they help heart failure, visit the American Heart Association.
It is important to take them as prescribed and get your refills in a timely manner. Sometimes if you have symptoms, we can evaluate you urgently and determine if you need intravenous medications to prevent “fluid build-up” instead of going to the ER.
Other treatments for Heart Failure include lifestyle changes such as reducing the salt in your diet and controlling other related conditions such as sleep apnea, diabetes and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.