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A recipient of the American Heart Association's "Get With the Guidelines" Heart Failure and Stroke Gold Performance Achievement Award in 2012, Littleton Adventist Hospital ensures that each patient receives excellent care and treatment in cardiac services.
Heart failure may affect only one side of the heart, however, the condition more commonly affects both sides. As the heart works to provide enough blood to feed the body, it overextends itself and eventually becomes weakened. The kidneys respond to this condition by causing the body to retain
water and sodium. Fluids collect in the arms, feet, ankles and other organs and the body becomes congested - and is termed congestive heart failure.
Heart failure occurs when disease affects the heart in one of the following three ways:
1. Weakening the heart muscle.
2. Stiffening the heart muscle.
3. Increasing the demand for oxygen by the body's tissues beyond what the heart can supply.
Your heart fills and empties with each beat. The filling process is called diastole and the emptying process is called systole. When the lower chambers (ventricles) of the heart contract, blood pumps out to the rest of the body. After emptying, the
heart muscles relax and blood flows from the upper chambers (atria) of the heart into the ventricles.
Both systolic and diastolic heart failure result in the deficiency of oxygen-rich blood throughout the body. The effects are particularly noticeable during exercise or increased activity.
Some patients show no symptoms prior to heart failure.
If congestive heart failure is suspected, a full evaluation may be performed to determine the condition of the heart.
The following are tests that may be ordered:
These, along with urine, blood chemistry and other lab tests can provide further information on the severity of the condition and help physicians determine the best care for the patient.
Centura Health at Home is the first in Colorado to implement a
telehealth system that allows us to monitor patients through the use of a two-way video monitoring station. This ability to see patients in-between regular home visits allows Centura Health at Home to reinforce the education process and to maintain closer contact with patients.
If the heart is in danger of heart failure, exams will be scheduled every three to six months to monitor the progression of the disease. One way to track the condition at home is to watch for weight gain - increased water retention can be a sign that
the heart is worsening.
Other helpful suggestions include:
Some cases may require heart valve surgery, coronary bypass surgery (CABG) or angioplasty to improve the functioning of the heart.
Certain devices may be recommended including:
When heart failure is severe or a patient is awaiting a heart transplant, the following my be required:
These devices are not permanent solutions but can be life saving. If a patient becomes dependent on circulatory support, a
heart transplant will be necessary.
Contact a physician if experiencing weakness, increased cough or sputum production, sudden weight gain or swelling or unexplained symptoms.
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