Heart failure is a condition in which the heart cannot pump enough oxygenated blood to meet the needs of the body’s other organs. The heart keeps pumping, but not as efficiently as a healthy heart. Usually, the loss in the heart’s pumping action is a symptom of an underlying heart problem.
Nearly five million American adults suffer from heart failure, and nearly one million of these patients are admitted to hospitals annually. Twenty-three percent of these patients will be readmitted for heart failure within six months of their last hospitalization.
The goal of Riverside Medical Center’s Heart Failure Clinic is to help patients avoid hospitalization and improve their quality of life by helping them to feel better. Heart failure cannot be cured, but with the right care it can be managed. The Heart Failure Clinic works with you and your physician to customize a treatment plan based on your unique medical condition.
Causes of Heart Failure
Heart failure occurs when the heart is overstressed or damaged due to medical conditions and/or unhealthy lifestyle choices. In fact, the behaviors associated with causing heart disease can also cause heart failure, however, so can congenital heart defects or viruses that cause damage to the heart.
Choices that can lead to heart failure:
- Eating high fat and high cholesterol foods
- Being overweight
- Uncontrolled high blood pressure (hypertension)
- Excessive sodium intake
- Lack of exercise
- Alcohol or drug abuse
Medical conditions that can cause heart failure:
- Heart valve disease – caused by past rheumatic fever or other infections
- Infections of the heart valves and/or heart muscle
- Previous heart attack(s) (myocardial infarction) – scar tissue from previous attacks may interfere with the heart muscle’s ability to work normally
- Coronary artery disease – narrowed arteries that supply blood to the heart muscle
- Cardiomyopathy – or another primary disease of the heart muscle
- Congenital heart disease/defects (present at birth)
- Cardiac arrhythmias (irregular heartbeats)
- Chronic lung disease and pulmonary embolisms
- Hemorrhage and anemia
Who is at risk for heart failure?
Although heart failure may strike at any age, it is more common in people over the age of 65. In fact, untreated heart failure is the number one reason for hospital visits in this age group.
Risk factors of heart failure include:
- Heart attack (myocardial infarction)
- Damage to the heart valves or history of a heart murmur
- Enlargement of the heart
- Family history of enlarged heart
- Heart Rhythm Disorders (arrhythmias)
- Heart defects present at birth (congenital heart disease)
- An abnormally low number of red blood cells (severe anemia)
- An overactive thyroid gland (hyperthyroidism)
- Heart muscle disease (cardiomyopathy) or inflammation (myocarditis)
- High blood pressure (hypertension)
Heart failure affects more African Americans than any other race. In fact, African Americans are more likely to:
- Develop heart failure symptoms at an earlier age
- Have their heart failure get worse faster
- Have more hospital visits
- Die from heart failure
Men have a higher rate of heart failure than women. But since more women than men live into their seventies and eighties, when heart failure is most common, heart failure is actually more common in women.
Signs and Symptoms of Heart Failure
Each individual experiences the effects of heart failure differently. The severity of each symptom depends on how much of the heart’s pumping capacity has been lost.
Most common symptoms of heart failure:
- Shortness of breath during rest, exercise or lying flat
- Weight gain
- Visible swelling of the legs and ankles (due to a build-up of fluid) and, occasionally, the abdomen
- Fatigue and weakness
- Loss of appetite and nausea
- Persistent cough – often produces mucus or blood-tinged sputum
- Reduced urination
How is heart failure diagnosed?
Those who may have heart failure should start with their regular physician who will review their medical history and conduct a full physical examination. Other diagnostic procedures also may include an x-ray, an echocardiogram and/or an electrocardiogram.
Treatment for Heart Failure
The severity of heart failure can be classified into stages I through IV. The heart failure clinic staff tailors its services to meet each individual’s specific needs and stage of illness.
Depending on specific medical needs, preferences, expectations and stage of disease, heart failure treatment plans may include:
- Self-care by controlling behavioral risk factors
- Implantable heart devices
Whatever the treatment plan, our staff believes that the best results occur when a patient actively participates in managing their condition. That’s why they work hard to ensure that each patient is fully informed and equipped with the knowledge needed to make decisions about their care and their daily life.
Our Team of Caring Professionals
The Heart Failure Clinic is staffed by two specially trained cardiac nurses, with many years of experience and a wealth of knowledge regarding the most up-to-date treatments and options for care.
When visiting the Heart Failure Clinic for the first time, the nurses will sit down with you and your family to discuss your symptoms and how they affect your life. Then, they will perform a thorough nursing assessment and report any significant findings to your physician.
The Heart Failure Clinic’s staff truly cares about finding a treatment plan that works for you and will ask what you are willing to do to feel better. They work to empower each patient with the knowledge and skills needed to manage their illness easily and effectively. They understand your desire to feel well so that you can enjoy your family and friends and avoid hospitalization. They are committed to helping you to be successful, and understand that it is not always easy.
A physician’s order is required to receive treatment in the clinic. Please do not hesitate to call the Heart Failure Clinic if you think you or a loved one would like to receive care. They can help you work through the complexities of eligibility and coverage, and help you obtain a prescription for care, if needed.
Riverside Heart Failure Clinic
500 N. Wall Street, Suite 400
Kankakee, IL 60901
Ph: (815) 933-6526
Fax: (815) 933-7552