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Heart Failure

Heart Failure

An estimated 5.8 million Americans are currently living with heart failure (HF) – and about 675,000 new cases are diagnosed each year. As the U.S. population ages, these numbers are expected to increase.

Heart failure does not mean the heart has stopped working -- it means that the heart muscle has become weakened or damaged, leaving it unable to efficiently pump blood through the body.

Some symptoms of heart failure might include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Increased fatigue or tiredness
  • Swelling, or edema, of the legs, feet or abdomen
  • Cough and/or lung congestion
  • Fast, irregular heartbeats
  • Inability to lie flat when in bed due to breathing difficulties

Some causes of heart failure might include:

  • Prior heart attack
  • High blood pressure
  • Heart valve disease
  • Infection of the heart muscle
  • Alcoholism or drug abuse
  • Chemotherapy
  • Thyroid disease

There is no cure for heart failure – but there are ways to work with your doctor to control your symptoms and improve your quality of life.

Recent studies show that patients who participate in a structured heart failure program have fewer complications and hospitalizations than those patients who don't participate in a program. Learning how to work with your doctor to manage your heart failure can make a big difference in your health.

SCVI Heart Failure Program

By participating in the Summa Cardiovascular Institute’s (SCVI) Heart Failure Program, you’ll learn how to take a more active role in minimizing your risks for complications and hospitalizations due to heart failure.

The program is designed to improve your health by partnering with your primary care physician to offer extra support and ongoing monitoring of your heart failure status.

Benefits of participating in the program include:

  • Assisting you (and your family) in becoming active partners in your treatment by educating you on how to manage your heart failure.
  • Helping you understand the importance of following your treatment plan, including medications, dietary restrictions, weight monitoring, physical activity and keeping follow-up appointments.
  • Increasing your awareness and understanding of the symptoms of worsening heart failure – and help you know when and how to seek medical help – before a situation turns critical.
  • Reducing your emergency room visits and hospital admissions.
  • And perhaps most importantly, improving your quality of life and life expectancy.

What can I expect during visits?

Your initial visit to the SCVI Heart Failure Clinic will last about 60 minutes and will include:

  • Recording your height, weight and vital signs
  • Taking your medical history
  • Physical exam performed by the cardiologist
  • Review of your current medications
  • Medications started or dosages changed as needed
  • Labs and diagnostic tests ordered as needed
  • Individualized heart failure education
  • Six-minute walk test to assess your exercise capacity
  • Screening for sleep apnea
  • Quality of Life Assessment

During follow-up appointments at the Clinic, you will be seen by an advanced practice nurse or a cardiologist. Your visit will last about 30 minutes and will include:

  • Documenting of a focused cardiac history
  • A physical exam
  • Recording of weight and vital signs and a review of your weight log
  • Review of medication dosages and adjustment as needed
  • Lab tests and diagnostic tests ordered and reviewed as needed
  • A depression screening (at three months)
  • Ongoing individualized heart failure education
  • Referrals to other specialists as needed

How can I participate or learn more?

If you’ve been diagnosed with heart failure, talk to your doctor about getting a referral to see a cardiologist at the SCVI Heart Failure Program. 

To learn more about Summa's Heart Failure Program, call (888) 926-9540 to schedule an appointment for an evaluation.