Saint Thomas Health > Heart > Heart Failure

Heart Failure

Helping Give Heart Failure Patients A New Lease on Life.

Heart failure is a term that doctors use when your heart does not pump as it should. Managing your Heart Failure is important in helping your heart work at its best. Click below to learn more.

Congestive heart failure (CHF) is the leading cause of hospitalization among patients over 65, with more than 400,000 cases diagnosed each year. CHF occurs when the flow of blood from the heart (cardiac output) decreases, or fluid backs-up behind the failing ventricle, or both. Signs and symptoms of heart failure can be subtle and may include:

  • shortness of breath, which can happen during mild activity
  • difficulty breathing when lying down
  • weight gain with swelling in the legs and abdomen from fluid retention
  • fatigue and weakness

Saint Thomas Heart has established an Advanced Heart Failure Program for the treatment of patients in all stages of heart failure. The Advanced Heart Failure Program is a physician driven, nurse managed consultative program for adult patients diagnosed with congestive heart failure. Patients in the program are supported by cardiac physicians and nurses who have received specialized training in the diagnosis and treatment of CHF. In addition to state-of-the-art medical and surgical care, heart-failure patients have access to the latest research in drugs, devices and procedures. Services offered by the program include:

  • Heart Failure evaluation
  • Evidence based medical therapy
  • Team based expert management and follow up
  • Individualized patient education
  • Transplant / VAD consultation as indicated
  • Inpatient unit designated for heart failure patients
  • Aquapheresis therapy for diuretic resistant patients
  • Nutrition consultation
  • Pharmacy consultation
  • Cardiac rehabilitation
  • Social work consultation
  • Access to investigational trials

How is Congestive Heart Failure Managed?

Heart Failure care requires a multifaceted approach by experienced clinicians. Patients admitted to the clinic can expect to have an extensive review of their individual history with careful consideration of issues that can impact their heart failure progression, symptomatology, and treatment.

If you have heart failure, your doctor will monitor you closely. You will have follow-up appointments at least every 3 to 6 months, but sometimes much more often. You will also have tests to check your heart function.

Knowing your body and the symptoms that your heart failure is getting worse will help you stay healthier and out of the hospital. At home, watch for changes in your heart rate, pulse, blood pressure, and weight.

Weight gain, especially over a day or two, can be a sign that your body is holding onto extra fluid and your heart failure is getting worse. Talk to your doctor about what you should do if your weight goes up or you develop more symptoms. Limit how much salt you eat. Your doctor may also ask you to limit how much fluid you drink during the day. For some patients with severe heart failure who have exhausted traditional forms of treatment, a VAD - or Ventricular Assist Device - may be considered.

Our Heart Failure Specialists