More than five million Americans are living with heart failure, a condition in which your heart is unable to keep up with your body’s need for blood supply. As heart failure progresses, it causes the heart to weaken and eventually makes everyday activities like walking very difficult.
At CHI Saint Joseph Health, our heart specialists are here to help patients with this condition and improve their quality of life after hospitalization. While there is no cure for heart failure, we offer an array of treatments that can help you manage the condition and get back to what you need and love to do. Our team of cardiologists, specially trained nurses, pharmacists and other care experts work closely with you to create the fully personalized treatment plan that’s best for you.
To make an appointment, call 859.313.2255 or find a heart care specialist anytime online.
Understanding Heart Failure
Heart failure — also known as congestive heart failure — is a very common condition that is typically caused by health conditions that overwork your heart, such as diabetes, lung disease, coronary artery disease, arrhythmias, high blood pressure and other heart conditions.
As heart failure causes your heart to weaken, fluid can build up in your lungs and other parts of your body. This fluid buildup can contribute to the most common signs and symptoms of heart failure, which include:
- Shortness of breath
- Swelling in the ankles, feet, legs or abdomen
- Swelling in the veins of the neck
- Trouble breathing
Diagnosing Heart Failure
We offer a full range of diagnostic testing for heart failure, including:
- Blood tests: Check for conditions related to heart failure—such as anemia or a thyroid problem—and can look for a chemical called B-type natriuretic peptide (BNP), which is associated with heart failure.
- Chest X-ray: Detects certain signs of heart failure, such as enlargement of the heart and fluid in the lungs.
- Echocardiogram: Using sound waves, creates a video image of your heart, which provides doctors with important information about its size and how well it’s pumping blood.
- Electrocardiogram (ECG): Measures the heart’s electrical activity and determines if it is beating with an erratic rhythm or has an enlarged chamber, which may contribute to heart failure.
- Exercise stress test: By monitoring your heart’s activity with ECG while you walk on a treadmill, checks whether your heart is able to supply your body with adequate blood flow.
- Cardiac magnetic resonance imaging (MRI): Obtains an image of your heart’s structure to determine if it has sustained any damage that’s interfering with healthy pumping of blood.
- Cardiac catheterization: Uses a slender tube inserted in a blood vessel in the groin or wrist and a contrast dye to create images called angiograms, which can reveal blockages in the arteries that may block blood flow and weaken the heart’s pumping muscles.
Treating Heart Failure
Your team at CHI Saint Joseph will create a treatment plan tailored to your specific needs, preferences and the severity of your heart failure. In addition to recommending lifestyle changes that may benefit you (such as losing weight or quitting smoking), your doctor can offer a variety of therapies, including:
Medications are available to help treat heart failure. Talk with your provider about what the best treatment options are for you.
- ICD or defibrillator implantation: Patients with heart failure are at a high risk of dying suddenly. The best way to prevent sudden cardiac death is with an ICD (implantable cardioverter-defibrillator), commonly known as defibrillator. The defibrillator is a small device implanted under the skin and over the chest that will jump start the heart in case it stops beating.
- BiV ICD: This special type of defibrillator not only helps patients live longer, but also makes them feel better. BiV-ICD (biventricular defibrillator) is a bit larger than a regular defibrillator and requires an extra wire to make the heart pump stronger.
- Ventricular assist device (VAD): This is a blood pump that helps the heart send blood to the rest of the body. Surgery is required to implant the VAD, which can be placed inside or outside the body.
- Cardiac resynchronization therapy (CRT): This is a device that resynchronizes contractions of the heart using small electrical impulses.
- Percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI): Using a catheter, doctors place a stent in your heart to open up blood vessels and increase blood flow.
- Coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG): This surgery improves blood flow to the heart by directing blood around narrowed or clogged arteries.
- Valve replacement: If your heart valves are damaged, this surgery can replace them with artificial valves.
Personalized Cardiac Rehabilitation
At CHI Saint Joseph Health, we offer cardiac and/or pulmonary rehabilitation programs. Cardiac rehabilitation is a medically supervised program designed to guide you through the changes you can make and the steps you can take to improve your heart health and live your best life. Our programs can help improve stamina, increase your tolerance for activity and build your physical fitness, which can stabilize, slow or even reverse the progression of heart failure.
Contact a Heart Care Specialist
Find a CHI Saint Joseph Health heart and vascular location near you: