Heart failure affects 5,000,000 patients in the U.S. with 550,000 new cases diagnosed each year. Even though this disease increases in frequency in older adults, it may affect a person at any age. In Indiana there are 8,600 new cases of heart failure diagnosed each year.
Our approach to heart failure care
At the Heart Failure Center, we focus on patient-centered care for everything, from early detection and diagnosis to a complete array of treatment options, including medications, heart valve repair and replacements, and mechanical devices to help the heart work better.
“My health is important to me. It’s a great feeling to know you can count on an experienced team who genuinely care about how I am doing between my visits, not just at my visit. The staff at the Healthy Hearts Heart Failure Center are compassionate and responsive. They truly make a difference in healthcare – my healthcare.”
—Don Cobb, patient
We address the needs of all heart failure patients and apply the best technology available with the best experts available to use it. In fact, we implement a multidisciplinary approach, building a team of specialty physicians and advanced practice nurses to ensure the best course of treatments to reduce the patient’s symptoms, improve quality of life and prolong survival.
What is heart failure?
Heart failure does not mean that the heart has stopped or failed; it means that the heart has become weakened and does not pump enough blood with each heartbeat to meet the demands of the body. When your heart does not pump efficiently, blood may back up into your lungs and other tissues. When this happens, organs such as your kidneys and your brain receive less blood and oxygen and you may begin to experience the following symptoms:
- Shortness of breath when you exert yourself or when you lie down
- Fatigue and weakness
- Swelling in your legs, ankles and feet
- Rapid or irregular heartbeat
- Reduced ability to exercise
- Persistent cough or wheezing with white or pink blood-tinged phlegm
- Swelling of your abdomen
- Sudden weight gain from fluid retention
- Lack of appetite and nausea
- Difficulty concentrating / decreased alertness
Can heart failure go away or be cured?
Heart failure is a chronic disease that will never fully go away; however, your heart failure symptoms may come and go. If the cause of heart failure is known, there are treatment options that offer the best long-term results. Most often, heart failure can be controlled with medicines, diet, rest and low-level exercise. Sometimes the cause of heart failure is unknown. Heart failure can also be temporary if the cause can be reversed.
What causes heart failure?
Heart failure can be caused by any medical problem that weakens or damages the heart muscle. Having diabetes with or without heart disease, or high blood pressure, increases the risk of heart failure, especially in women. Common causes of heart failure include:
- Coronary artery disease (buildup of cholesterol and fatty deposits in the arteries that supply the heart muscle with blood and oxygen)
- High blood pressure
- Cardiomyopathy (changes to your heart muscle function)
- Abnormal heart valves (valves do not fully open or close)
- Severe lung disease
- Severe anemia (not having enough red blood cells to carry oxygen)
- Overactive thyroid (causes the body to work at a fast pace)
- Abnormal heart rhythm (heart beating too fast or too slow)
- Overuse of alcohol or other toxins
- Certain medications (e.g., chemotherapy agents)
- Infection of the heart muscle
- Familial or genetic (condition present in other family members)
Frequently asked questions about the congestive heart failure clinic
What is the program like?
The initial phase of the heart failure program consists of four visits. During this time, the staff will get to know you and provide you with all the necessary information and tools you need to best manage your condition. These four visits are usually scheduled one week apart, but can be arranged to fit most schedules. The first visit usually lasts two hours; the rest of the visits typically last one hour. During this time, you will have an opportunity to meet with the various staff.
Each time you come to the center, you will be weighed. Your blood pressure and pulse will be taken while you are lying down, sitting up and standing. You may also take a supervised walk in the hallway to check your response to activity. If you need lab work done, you can have your blood drawn in the center.
Patients are enrolled in our Interactive Voice Response (IVR) program for the first six weeks. The IVR system will call you at prearranged times during the week to help us monitor your status at home. Additionally, through participation, you will master the skills necessary to manage your heart failure between visits.
Patients with end-stage heart failure may be candidates for a Left Ventricular Assist Device (LVAD). Our staff is specially trained to manage the care of such patients and your care will be individualized to your medical needs.
What are the benefits of participating in the heart failure clinic?
- Expert review of your case and management of your unique clinical situation with real-time response to your questions and problems.
- Having a health professional as your personal advocate and partner in care.
- Access to unlimited learning opportunities with nurse practitioner expertise available during office visits and via telephone and Internet.
- Personal dietitian and pharmacist consultations.
- Decreased hospitalization and readmission rates.
What can I expect from the heart failure clinic?
- Courteous, honest and professional treatment with respectful and thoughtful consideration of the unique problems that you face in a specialized clinic setting.
- Enhanced understanding of how to work in partnership with your healthcare team to improve your quality of life and healthcare-related outcomes.
- Access to information and services offered through Community Health Network.
- A plan of care and based on your and your family’s individual needs and experts in heart failure to help you manage your condition.
Why do I have to take so many medications and how long do I have to take them?
Depending on the cause of your heart failure, medicines can reduce or eliminate your symptoms, giving you a better quality of life. Often, it takes multiple medicines to achieve this goal. For most people, medicine must be taken indefinitely. Some medications may be stopped or changed depending on how well your body reacts to the medicine.
How do I follow a low-sodium diet?
- Eat fresh vegetables or unsalted canned or frozen vegetables.
- Season with fresh or dried herbs, vegetables or no-salt seasonings.
- Bake, broil, boil, steam, roast or poach foods without salt.
- Make your own sauces, salad dressings, vegetable dishes and desserts when you can.
- Buy low-sodium foods (like fish or salmon) when possible.
- Read food labels to find the amount of sodium PER serving size (many items are packaged for more than one serving).
- Keep track of your sodium intake each day. It may surprise you how fast it adds up.
How much does a clinic visit cost?
Most insurance carriers cover most, if not all, of the cost. For specific questions regarding your insurance plan, please call 317-621-8727.
Do I have to come every week?
The frequency of your visits will be determined by you and your nurse practitioner based on your needs and ability. We will individualize your care to fit your needs.
Will I still see my family doctor or cardiologist?
We provide care in conjunction with your cardiologist and family doctor. We offer extensive teaching on heart failure medications, diet, disease process and coping strategies. We have a dietitian and pharmacist who offer individualized educational needs, as well as a monthly support group to offer emotional support. Together with your other physicians, our goal is to improve or maintain your best quality of life possible while keeping you out of the hospital.