Life with Heart Failure

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Heart Disease

Heart failure is becoming a more common health care term. On first reference, it may seem like the heart is no longer working. However, heart failure actually refers to a chronic condition where the heart isn’t pumping enough blood to meet the body’s needs, and congestive heart failure is a type of heart failure that requires immediate medical attention.

When heart failure begins, the heart tries to compensate by enlarging, developing more muscle mass, pumping harder, blood vessels narrow, and blood diverts away from the rest of the body. This can hide symptoms of heart failure, but it doesn’t reverse the condition. These compensations actually make it worse.

While all hearts weaken with age, heart failure results from other health conditions that can damage the heart. Conditions that may lead to heart failure, include:

  • Coronary artery disease
  • Past heart attack
  • High blood pressure
  • Abnormal heart valves
  • Heart muscle disease
  • Congenital heart defects
  • Severe lung disease
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Sleep apnea
  • Severe anemia
  • Overactive thyroid
  • Abnormal heart rhythm

The MemorialCare Heart & Vascular Institute at Long Beach Medical Center has a Heart Failure Clinic, which provides multi-disciplinary management for congestive heart failure patients in an outpatient setting. At the Heart Failure Clinic, patients work directly with a nurse practitioner that specializes in treating patients with heart failure. The nurse practitioner develops a unique treatment plan for each patient to help them manage their condition.

"The goal of heart failure rehabilitation is to reduce hospital re-admissions and improve quality of life," says Cindy Peters, RN, MSN, ACNP, nurse practitioner, MemorialCare Heart & Vascular Institute, Long Beach Medical Center.

Since heart failure is a chronic condition, it can be an overwhelming diagnosis, but when the condition is managed, a person can live a healthy and happy life. If someone has been diagnosed with heart failure, it is important to:

  • Continue receiving medical care
  • Follow physician orders
  • Take prescribed medication
  • Avoid foods high in sodium
  • Start a doctor-approved exercise plan

To learn more about the Heart Failure Clinic at Long Beach Medical Center, please call (562) 933-9236.