Heart Failure

Heart failure occurs when the heart muscle weakens and cannot adequately pump blood to the rest of the body. Heart failure does not mean that your heart has stopped. Patients with heart failure develop the condition over time, as the heart becomes weaker and weaker. The condition is serious but also very common, affecting more than 5 million people in the United States.

If you have been diagnosed with heart failure, it is important to know you are not alone. The Heart Failure Center is here to help you get better. We work in collaboration with you and your primary care provider to treat your heart failure and provide the education and support you need.

Heart FailureSymptoms

  • Tiredness and fatigue with normal activities
  • Feeling short-winded
  • Needing extra pillows to prop yourself up to sleep
  • Swelling in feet and ankles
  • Coughing frothy phlegm

Someone with heart failure may exhibit one or all of these symptoms, or maybe none at all. It depends on the person’s overall heart health and whether the heart is in a weakened state.

Diagnosis

If you think that you or a loved one is experiencing heart failure, call a doctor immediately. Heart failure can be diagnosed with tests that include:

  • Echocardiogram
  • Stress test
  • Blood test

Your doctor may also recommend a cardiac catheterization to determine why the heart muscle is weak.

Causes

  • High blood pressure
  • Coronary artery disease/heart attack
  • Diabetes
  • Toxicity (alcohol or drug-induced)
  • Inflammation
  • Stress reaction
  • Family history

Complications

If you have heart failure, you are at risk for developing:
  • Abnormal heart rhythms
  • Depression
  • Kidney disease
  • Liver disease
  • Anemia (low blood count)
  • Stroke
  • Blood clots

Treatment

Several medications are used to treat heart failure. It is important to take medications as prescribed and order your refills in a timely manner. If you have symptoms, we can often evaluate you urgently and determine if you need intravenous medications to prevent fluid buildup. Visit the American Heart Association for more information about these medications and how they can help:

  • Beta blockers
  • Angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitors (ACEs)
  • Angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs)
  • Aldosterone receptor antagonists
  • Diuretics
  • Digoxin
  • Hydralazine
  • Nitrates

Other treatments for heart failure include lifestyle changes like reducing salt intake and controlling other related conditions such as sleep apnea, diabetes and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Some content provided by The StayWell Company, LLC.