Support, Education for Congestive Heart Failure Patients
Congestive heart failure (CHF) is a condition in which the heart cannot pump enough blood through the body to meet its needs for blood and oxygen. This weakening (it's not literally 'failure') of the heart's pumping ability may cause:
- Blood and fluid to collect in the lungs
- Fluid to collect in the feet, ankles and legs, causing swelling (edema)
- Fatigue and shortness of breath.
Walking, climbing stairs or carrying groceries can be difficult for someone with heart failure.
Heart Failure Causes
The causes of CHF include coronary artery disease, high blood pressure and diabetes. It is more common in people who have had a heart attack, people who are 65 and older and people who are African American. Men are more likely to have congestive heart failure than women, although women develop it, too.
Although heart failure is a serious condition, many people with heart failure can lead full, enjoyable lives when the condition is managed with medications and healthy lifestyle changes.
Physical and Emotional Support
The Congestive Heart Failure Center at St. Mary's Regional Medical Center can help people manage both the physical and emotional impact of CHF. Physicians, nurses and other healthcare professionals help patients become active participants in their care, and this has been found to reduce the need for hospitalization.
In partnership with the patient's primary care physician, the heart failure team - consisting of cardiologists, nurses, chaplains, dieticians and exercise specialists - work with patients to improve the length and quality of their lives through treatment and education. Team members also work with patients on financial challenges, emotional pain, spiritual questions or family problems.
During a typical visit to the St. Mary's Congestive Heart Failure Center, a patient may have access to an educational meeting as well as a check-in with a cardiologist. A nurse will usually perform a physical assessment, draw blood as needed, and if necessary, administer intravenous medications to strengthen the heart. Education is a crucial component of the St. Mary's CHF program and is emphasized throughout the center. Written and audio materials and group and one-on-one counseling is used in the educational sessions.