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Heart Failure: Is It Really That Serious?

Heart Failure: Is It Really That Serious?

Maybe you’re thinking your heart health is in good shape, or maybe you’re wondering if you have been experiencing symptoms that might be related to heart failure. In either case, it’s important to know the signs and symptoms of when your heart might be in trouble.

Kelly Neubauer, DNP, RN, Excela Health Heart Failure Nurse Navigator, sheds some light on the top five common misconceptions and facts about heart failure as well as ways to prevent early-onset and control symptoms of heart failure and when to seek medical assistance if experiencing symptoms.

Myth: Heart failure means that the heart has failed or stopped working.
Fact: Heart failure means that the heart cannot pump properly to meet your body’s needs.

Myth: Heart failure and a heart attack are one and the same.
Fact: During a heart attack, the blood supply to your heart is cut off. It is often brought on by a buildup of plaque in your arteries or by a blood clot. With heart failure, your heart is not pumping as much blood as your body needs. A heart attack can be one of the causes of heart failure, but the two are not the same thing.

Myth: There are no warning signs for heart failure.
Fact: The following symptoms alone may not seem like a big deal, but when you have more than one, they can signal something serious. Shortness of breath, tiredness/fatigue, constant coughing/wheezing, swelling in legs, ankles, feet, or abdomen, loss of appetite, nausea, and confusion are all possible signs of heart failure. Once you are diagnosed, it is important to keep track of your symptoms and tell your doctor about any changes that occur.

Myth: You should take it easy if you have heart failure.
Fact: When you find out you have heart failure, you may be afraid to do too much. However, regular movement is part of a heart-healthy lifestyle. Talk to your doctor about how to ease into a good exercise regimen that’s right for you. It is key that you don’t do too much, but the right exercise plan will strengthen your heart muscle, help blood flow, and ease symptoms.

Myth: Heart failure cannot be treated.
Fact: Specific medications, surgery and implanted devices like pacemakers can treat heart failure, but it is also very important to make smart lifestyle changes. These include eating heart-healthy foods, getting regular exercise, quitting smoking, maintaining a healthy weight, and managing cholesterol.

There are a few ways to prevent the onset of heart failure, including limiting alcohol, not smoking, managing stress, following a heart-healthy diet, exercising, and getting other medical conditions under control.

Controlling symptoms of early-onset are best explained with the heart failure zones. Know your zone!

If you feel you are experiencing heart failure symptoms, seek help immediately by contacting your physician. Do not wait until it is an emergency.

The Excela Health Heart Failure Clinic provides patients with the tools, education, and resources needed to combat heart failure, utilizing a comprehensive approach to managing and treating heart failure.

With early intervention, the Excela Health Heart Failure Clinic can help patients gain (or regain) control of their heart failure symptoms and significantly improve their quality of life.

To learn more about our outpatient Heart Failure Clinic and how to schedule an appointment, visit the Heart Failure page here.

Kelly Neubauer
Kelly Neubauer, DNP, RN
Heart Failure Nurse Navigator