What is Heart Failure
Heart Failure is a diagnosis given to patients who have problems with fluid build-up because their hearts are either weakened due to their heart muscle being damaged or enlarged or too stiff due to age or other conditions. These conditions are called HFrEF and HFpEF in the medical community and they translate to Heart Failure with Reduced Ejection Fraction and Heart Failure with Preserved Ejection Fraction.
Much can be done to look after patients with Heart Failure and much research is being done in this field. If you have heart failure it is important that you are being looked after by doctors who have an expertise in this area.
And it is important that you look after yourself by paying attention to your fluid intake, alcohol consumption, salt intake, exercise regime and vaccinations.
If you are unsure about any of these things you should consult with your local doctor or your heart specialist.
Heart Failure is a chronic condition in which the heart muscle or “pump” is not working as efficiently as it should. As a result the heart is unable to deliver blood around the body as effectively as usual.
The heart muscle may not be working properly due to being either:
• Enlarged and or weakened, (Systolic HF or Heart Failure Reduced Ejection Fraction)
• Thickened and stiff, (Diastolic HF or Heart Failure Preserved Ejection Fraction).
Treatment for Heart Failure
Medications to help improve the strength of the heart or treat the cause of the heart failure may be prescribed. Lifestyle modifications may also be needed such as fluid and salt restriction, monitoring weight and increasing daily exercise.
It is important that care be guided by a doctor with expertise in this area, however best practice will involve a multidisciplinary team which should include a heart failure nurse specialist for additional support.
Please contact your GP or heart specialist if you have any questions or concerns regarding this information.
Symptoms of heart failure
When the heart cannot provide the body with enough blood supply, some or all the following signs and symptoms may be experienced often because of fluid build up
Breathlessness even at rest or when lying down
Feeling of racing or irregular heart beat
There are many different causes of heart failure including coronary artery disease, (blocked heart arteries), high blood pressure and familial genetics.
Tests and diagnosis
Much can be done to care for patients with heart failure and management will include investigations to make a definite diagnosis and help identify cause. Testing may include ultrasound, ECG, Chest xray, blood tests and cardiac MRI.
Our heart failure clinics
A patient centred approach
GenesisCare provides a patient centred approach to improving heart failure patient care by running dedicated Heart Failure management clinics. These clinics provide multidisciplinary care for the assessment and management of patients with suspected or proven heart failure.
The clinic provides high quality, guideline-based care focusing on diagnosis and treatment in the form of non-pharmacological strategies, pharmacological management, device implantation and optimisation as well as referral for revascularisation in the public or private sectors when appropriate.
Patients are provided with education and support from our doctors and heart failure nurse. We also have developed links with local heart failure rehabilitation, community chronic disease nursing and palliative care services.
We believe this approach will reduce patient admissions to hospital, improve functional status and quality of life. The clinics take a “shared care” approach to patient care with the primary care doctor and aim to provide rapid access to clinic appointments, additional support for care of complex patients and improved communication of assessment outcomes and managements plans.
A referral to the Heart Failure clinic is required.