If you’ve been diagnosed with heart failure, it’s common to feel uncertain about what to do next. But you aren’t alone. Our cardiology team is here to help you navigate this challenging time with all the expertise and compassion you need to feel confident in your treatment plan and supported.
What is Heart Failure?
Heart failure is a general term we use to describe the heart’s inability to pump enough blood to supply the body’s needs. Heart failure often also leads to a person’s body holding on to fluid, which is referred to as congestive heart failure (CHF).
There are two major types of heart failure: systolic heart failure and diastolic heart failure. Knowing which type you or your loved one is facing can go a long way in helping you make informed healthcare decisions and finding peace of mind:
- Systolic heart failure happens when the heart muscle weakens (most often because of a heart attack), making it hard for the heart to pump blood throughout the body. Systolic heart failure is also sometimes called “heart failure with reduced ejection fraction.”
- Diastolic heart failure, also called “heart failure with preserved ejection fraction,” develops when the heart muscle becomes stiff and cannot fill with enough blood.
Both conditions can lead to fluid buildup and cause symptoms, such as difficulty breathing, fatigue and swelling in the legs or feet—all of which can lead to being admitted to the hospital for care.
Treating Heart Failure
Heart failure is a common issue that as many as one in five people will experience at some time during their life. And while it can be a progressive disease, there are treatments that can help you live longer and improve your quality of life. Your personalized treatment plan may include:
Medicines are the primary treatment for heart failure, and often, will be your first step towards managing your condition. At our cardiology clinic, we can see you promptly and start or adjust your medications as needed to keep you healthy and feeling your best.
A proper diet and regular exercise are important parts of treating heart failure. Depending on your situation, you may be asked to limit your intake of sodium (salt) and fluids to avoid fluid overload. Research also shows that exercise is safe for most heart failure patients, so we can talk with you about how to work out safely.
If you have systolic heart failure, you’ll likely benefit from the placement of a medical device to help your heart function better. These devices may include defibrillators or devices that control heart rhythm.
Aside from these treatments, additional therapies may be recommended to help you manage your symptoms—it all depends upon your specific condition. But you can count on our experienced and caring team to help you choose your best treatment options.
Remember that it’s also crucial to follow up regularly with your primary care doctor and cardiologist when you have heart failure. And, if your symptoms get worse at any point during treatment, contacting your doctor right away may help you avoid a hospital stay.
If you need a heart failure procedure in addition to medication, our team has well-developed electrophysiology and structural heart programs to assess your situation and determine your best course of action.
Should you need specialized device therapy or an advanced surgical procedure, our team will work directly with Dr. Navin Rajagopalan. He is a heart failure cardiologist from the University of Kentucky who will travel each month to see you right here at Owensboro Health Regional Hospital. Together, we’ll develop a personalized treatment plan that addresses all of your care needs and helps you meet your health goals.
Heart Failure Program
The Heart Failure Program team includes a dedicated pharmacist, nurse navigator, nurse practitioner and a cardiologist who is board certified in heart failure. The cardiologist will work closely with the team in Owensboro and travel here from the University of Kentucky each month. The pharmacist will review your medications prior to preparation to ensure they are appropriate based on your condition and lab work. They can also help answer any questions you have about your medications. A nurse navigator will provide individualized assistance to you, your family or caregivers and to help you overcome any healthcare system barriers. They will provide education and support regarding your heart failure treatment, follow-up care and rehabilitation plan. Your nurse navigator will coordinate with your physician and other members of your treatment team to ensure you receive excellent care.