You may think heart failure occurs when your heart has stopped working, but that isn’t the case. Heart failure occurs when your heart is unable to adequately pump the oxygen and nutrients your body needs. The result is a blood and fluid backup in a chamber of your heart or in your lungs, or excess fluid in your arms, legs, ankles, feet and other organs, which is also called edema.

What You Need to Know About Heart Failure

Heart failure can be caused by a number of risk factors:

  • Coronary artery disease
  • Uncontrolled/untreated high blood pressure
  • Heart attack
  • Diabetes
  • Kidney disease
  • Smoking
  • Being overweight

If you are living with mild to moderate heart failure, you can remain fairly active with cardiac medications. But if cardiac medications do not keep your condition well managed, or you are coping with another health condition, you may need more intensive treatment in a hospital. Once your fluids are controlled and your tests are stabilized, you may be ready to transition to the next step of care at a long-term acute care hospital, nursing or a rehabilitation center.

An important part of self-management is knowing what to look for in your health each day. The U.S. National Library of Medicine suggests asking yourself these questions:

  • Is my energy level normal?
  • Do I get more short of breath doing daily activities?
  • Are my clothes or shoes feeling tight?
  • Are my ankles or legs swelling?
  • Am I coughing more often? Does my cough sound wet?
  • Do I get short of breath at night or when I lie down?

If properly treated, people can live years with heart failure. Taking your medications as prescribed and changes in lifestyle habits can make a significant difference in effectively managing symptoms.

At Kindred, we offer specialized cardiac services through an interdisciplinary team of clinical experts led by specialty physicians. The collaborative team creates a goal-directed plan to address your physical, emotional and psychological needs, keeping you and your family educated on all options and decisions along the way. 

For more information about the cardiac services we provide, select one of the service lines below:

By Kindred Healthcare