Heart Failure

Heart failure doesn't mean your heart has stopped or failed completely. It means your heart is not pumping as well as it should. In turn, your body tries to compensate. It may do such a good job, that you don't even know you have a disease. But over time, your heart and body will no longer be able to keep up. In the early stages, you may:

  • Feel tired easily
  • Be short of breath when you exert yourself
  • Feel like your heart is pounding or racing (palpitations)
  • Feel weak or dizzy

As your heart failure gets worse, your body may begin to hold on to salt and water. This increases the amount of blood in your bloodstream, often called congestion or congestive heart failure. This may cause you to:

  • Feel short of breath even at rest
  • Have swelling, especially in your legs, ankles, and feet
  • Gain weight
  • Cough or wheeze, especially when you lie down
  • Need to urinate more at night
  • Feel bloated or sick to your stomach

Mercy has teams dedicated to helping patients with heart failure live longer, more fulfilling lives. In addition to a comprehensive range of treatment services, we also provide rehabilitation services and innovative ways to monitor and manage your symptoms at home. This includes ways you can measure your vital signs and electronically send the results to a team that reviews and monitors your condition daily.

How is heart failure diagnosed?

Your doctor may use a series of tests to find the cause and type of heart failure, including:

  • Electrocardiogram (EKG, ECG) – measures the electrical activity of your heart
  • Echocardiogram – uses sound waves to create a picture of the heart
  • CT or MRI scan – to see the structure of your heart and check how well it is pumping

How is heart failure treated?

Most treatment options focus on slowing progression of symptoms and helping you feel better and live longer. This may include:

  • Medications – to help keep heart failure from getting worse, reduce symptoms and treat the cause of your heart failure
  • Pacemaker – a battery-powered device that sends electrical impulses to help the heart maintain a regular heartbeat
  • Implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD) – uses electrical pulses to control abnormal heart rhythms, especially ones that can be life-threatening

Resources

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