Prevent Disease Progression
The name heart failure sounds terrifying. But heart failure actually means that the heart is not pumping as well as it should. This could be caused by a variety of causes such as heart attack, high blood pressure, congenital heart disease, cardiac arrhythmias, cardiomyopathy, coronary artery disease and exposure to toxins (such as alcohol or recreational drugs). If the heart is damaged, it is unable to get enough oxygen to the body’s cells.
Heart failure affects over six million Americans and over 900,000 new cases are diagnosed each year (American Heart Association, 2017). Heart failure is a chronic condition, which means that the prevention and treatment are important. Chronic conditions may not necessarily go away, but there are many steps that can be taken to prevent the progression of the disease.
Signs and symptoms of heart failure include:
- Shortness of breath
- Chronic coughing or wheezing
- Swelling (edema), most often in the feet or lower legs (but can also be around the abdomen, hands, or face)
- Feeling tired
- Lack of appetite
- Difficulty sleeping
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it is important to bring them up to your primary care provider to determine if they are being caused by your heart. If you reach a point that you are having difficulty breathing or chest pain, it is important to dial 911 and go to your nearest emergency facility.
Take Control of Heart Failure
Giving heart failure daily attention can help to keep you in control of your disease. Follow these steps to maintain your heart health.
- Weigh yourself first thing in the morning, every morning. Any weight gain more than three pounds in one day or five pounds in one week should be reported to your primary care provider.
- Take your medication as prescribed throughout the day, which is important for the medical management of heart failure.
- Limit your sodium intake. Sodium is in almost all packaged foods. Pay attention to labels, remove the salt shaker from the table, and replace salt with other seasonings such as pepper, or lemon or lime, which can make a huge difference in the health management of heart failure.
- Physical activity is important as well. Just be aware that you may need to break up your activity into smaller pieces. Taking two 15 minute walks throughout the day will still help you reach 30 minutes of physical activity, but you will accomplish this in a way that will not take up all of your energy.
Our Heart Failure Program is Invested in You
If you become hospitalized for heart failure, we want you to know that Desert Springs Hospital has a variety of resources to support you. We take heart failure seriously and have invested in the care that is provided to ensure that we treat heart failure with the seriousness that it deserves. Desert Springs Hospital is certified through The Joint Commission for heart failure and has earned a Bronze Certification with Get With the Guidelines through the American Heart Association. These certifications are a commitment to our patients, our facility, and our staff that we want to ensure that the industry best standards are being given to every patient. Desert Springs Hospital has a dedicated Heart Failure Nurse Navigator who provides education to patients and coordinates resources to ensure that the needs of our heart failure patients are being taken care of in the hospital and when they transition beyond hospital care.
The American Heart Association publishes a plethora of materials around all matters related to heart failure and other health topics.