There’s no question about it: a diagnosis of congestive heart failure is a frightening one. But the term “failure” is misleading. It doesn’t mean your heart has stopped working entirely— rather, that your heart isn’t working as well or pumping as hard as it should. But there’s hope! Effective treatment can help restore cardiac function.
Congestive heart failure (CHF) means the inability of the heart to either fill with, or eject, blood to keep up with the body’s requirements, resulting in symptoms such as shortness of breath, fatigue, and fluid retention. “This inability—or ‘failure’ as we commonly call it—can result from a variety of causes,” says Saurabh Rastogi, MD, a cardiologist at Kitsap Cardiology Consultants. “The most common are coronary artery disease, idiopathic dilated cardiomyopathy, diabetes, hypertension, and valvular heart disease.” Lifestyle is also a major risk factor, because smoking, poor diet, and lack of exercise damage the heart. Identifying the correct cause is critical, Dr. Rastogi explains, and its important patients be evaluated early on in their disease when it’s easier to treat.
Take charge of your heart A recognized leader in cardiac care, Harrison excels in the treatment of CHF. Because it usually results from a combination of many factors, heart failure patients are assigned a multifaceted team to provide them the treatment they need, including cardiologists, nursing staff, nutritionists, heart failure coordinator, pharmacists, and electrophysiologists. Patients and their family members are integral to the team. “The majority of heart failure care is performed at home by the patient and family or caregiver,” says Dr. Rastogi. “For this reason, comprehensive education and counseling are the foundation for all CHF management, and to achieve this, we have heart failure disease management programs we are building upon here at Harrison. The goal is to improve quality of life by preventing or minimizing the effects of the disease.”
Know your risks Talk to your primary care provider about your risks for heart disease. Don’t have a primary care provider? Call 866-844-WELL or visit Find A Doctor for a free referral to a doctor in your community.