There are an estimated 400,000-700,000 new cases of heart failure diagnosed each year. It’s the most common inpatient diagnosis in patients older than 65. While heart failure is a progressive disease, early diagnosis and treatment can improve your quality of life and life expectancy.
If you have heart failure, your heart muscle is weakened by damage from a heart attack, high blood pressure, or other cause. It gradually loses its ability to pump enough blood to meet your body’s needs – due to failure of your heart’s ability to pump, or a failure of your body’s ability to return blood to the heart.
Because your heart can’t pump well, your body tries to make up for it. Your heart chambers stretch so they can hold more blood, but become thick and stiff over time. Your kidneys respond, causing your body to hold onto fluids and sodium. These fluids build up in your arms, legs, ankles, feet, lungs and other organs.
Heart failure starts slowly and gets worse over time, though medicine and lifestyle changes can slow or even reverse heart failure for some people.
Knowing that your health may get worse can be hard. It’s normal to sometimes feel sad or hopeless. But if these feelings last, talk to your doctor. Antidepressant medicine, counseling, or both may help you cope. You may want to think about planning for the future. A living will lets doctors know what type of life-support measures you want if your health gets much worse. You can also choose a health care agent to make decisions in case you aren’t able to. It can be comforting to know that you’ll get the type of care you want.
Heart Failure Clinic
Our Heart Failure Clinic can help improve your quality of life. The center is staffed by a nurse practitioner, and gives you tools to manage your disease, helps monitor your medications and their side effects, and can intervene when necessary to help you stay out of the hospital.
Center staff members also visit with hospitalized patients who have been diagnosed with heart failure, providing education and answering questions, and telemedicine services allow staff to monitor patients from home.
For more information, call 417-875-2690.