Patients with heart failure typically suffer from decreasing levels of activity, decreased exercise tolerance, and shortness of breath. They do not necessarily experience chest pain.
Diagnosis starts with questions about the patient’s history, and a physical examination. Special attention is given to identify possible causes, such as:
Physicians use several tests during the diagnosis and management of heart failure. Most are noninvasive, such as ECG, chest x-ray and echocardiography, but occasionally invasive tests such as cardiac catheterization are needed.
Treatment is tailored to each individual patient. In general, it includes lifestyle modifications and self-care behaviors, as well as medications that are known to prolong the patient’s life and improve its quality. These medications reduce the workload of the heart, and help reduce fluid overload.
In certain cases, devices such as pacemakers and defibrillators may be needed if symptoms persist. Advanced cases are evaluated to determine suitability for artificial heart pumps or heart transplantation.
In all stages of the disease, patients and their families receive extensive information and education.
The Advanced Heart Failure and Transplant program is a multidisciplinary effort that involves a diverse range of healthcare professionals.
These include highly skilled physicians, including cardiologists, cardiac surgeons, and intensive care doctors; as well as a caregivers such as nurse coordinators, nurse educators, pharmacotherapy specialists, case managers, dieticians, and physical therapists.