Heart Failure

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About

Heart failure does not mean the heart has stopped, instead it means the heart does not pump as it should, resulting in less oxygen-rich blood circulating in the body. Nearly five million Americans are living with heart failure, and 550,000 new cases are diagnosed each year. Heart failure is a chronic and often progressive disease. Coronary artery disease is the most common cause of heart failure in the United States. Congenital heart disease, heart valve disease, cardiomyopathy, and high blood pressure can also cause heart failure. The more common forms of heart failure—those due to damage that has accumulated over time—can’t be cured. They can, however, be treated and oftentimes symptoms can be greatly decreased.

Types

  • Diastolic heart failure - the left ventricle, lower left chamber of the heart, does not fill with enough blood before it contracts.
    • Systolic heart failure - the left ventricle, lower left chamber of the heart, pumps less blood than normal.
    • Left-sided heart failure - the left side of the heart pumps less blood than normal.
  • Right-sided heart failure - the right side of the heart pumps less blood than normal. This usually occurs as a result of left-sided failure.

Symptoms

Heart failure symptoms can be mild to severe depending on the stage of heart failure. Some symptoms may include:

  • Shortness of breath.
  • Coughing.
  • Dizziness.
  • Swelling in the feet, ankles and abdomen.
  • Fatigue.
  • Rapid or abnormal heartbeats.
  • Weight gain.

Diagnosis

Treatments

Follow Up Care

Education

Following recommendations about diet, exercise and other habits can help to alleviate symptoms, slow heart failure’s progression and improve everyday life. Our outpatient education program helps heart failure patients to understand their condition and what they can do to improve their daily life and overall outcomes. Nutrition, medication and lifestyle changes are the key highlights of the program.

Lifestyle Changes
  • If you smoke, quit. Quitting smoking greatly reduces heart failure symptoms and helps improve outcomes.
  • Regular exercise.
  • Control high blood pressure.
  • Control diabetes.
  • Limit alcohol use.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.
Medications

Most people with heart failure take a number of medications that work in different ways. Some help to improve circulation by strengthening the heart muscle's pumping action or expanding the blood vessels. Others help to reduce the amount of water and sodium in the body, which in turn reduces the heart's workload. Patients and their families need to keep track of prescribed medications and follow instructions on how much to take and when to take them. Our physicians and pharmacists can help determine the proper medications and dosage and help you stick with a program to keep you feeling your best.

Heart Failure Management
  • Sleep Apnea – Sleep apnea is a common affliction among heart failure patients. The Sleep Disorder Center at Long Beach Memorial Medical Center offers sleep evaluations for heart failure patients, and for those diagnosed with apnea. Treatment may include continuous positive airway pressure or CPAP treatment.
  • Infusion Centers – Heart failure patients may receive outpatient treatment with intravenous vasoactive medications to manage heart contractions and severe symptoms.
  • Pacemaker and Arrhythmia Clinic – Patients with an implanted pacemaker or cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) may receive outpatient follow-up care at Saddleback Memorial's clinic.