Heart failure is one of the fastest growing heart conditions in the United States. There are more than 5 million Americans with heart failure and over 550,000 people are diagnosed with heart failure each year. You are not alone, and Spectrum Health is here to help. Our goal is to provide you with superior quality personal care, working in partnership with you to treat your heart failure.
Heart failure means your heart is not pumping well. Symptoms of heart failure may develop over weeks or months. Your heart becomes weaker over time and is not able to pump the amount of blood your body needs. Your heart may enlarge. When the heart can’t pump as strongly as before, the body can’t get rid of extra fluid. This fluid can leak into the lungs and may cause swelling in the legs, feet, ankles or abdomen.
When you have heart failure, it does not mean that your heart has failed. Your heart keeps working, but it cannot keep up with our body’s needs for blood and oxygen. Your heart is not able to pump as forcefully or as hard as it should to move the blood to all parts of your body. Heart failure can get worse if it is not treated, but with treatment it may improve.
How Is Heart Failure Diagnosed?
Many conditions can lead to advanced heart failure (AHF) or congestive heart failure (CHF). Proper diagnosis and treatment require expert care for the best outcomes.
The most common way to identify heart failure is by measuring the percentage of blood that is pumped out of the heart during each beat. This percentage is called the ejection fraction. A healthy heart pumps out 50-70 percent of the blood during each beat. Many people with heart failure pump out less than 40 percent. This is called systolic heart failure.
Some people with heart failure have a normal (50 to 70 percent) ejection fraction, but the heart muscle becomes stiff and does not relax normally when it is time for the chamber to refill with blood. This is called diastolic heart failure. You may have one or both types of heart failure.
Our Heart Failure Program Can Help YOU
Our heart failure program can help many patients manage congestive heart failure, avoid hospital stays and improve quality of life at any stage. We can help if you or your loved one are:
A newly diagnosed patient with heart failure
A patient with a diagnosed heart problem whose symptoms haven't improved with medical treatment and lifestyle changes
A mechanical circulatory or VAD (ventricular assist device) patient
Someone who has had frequent heart-related emergency visits or hospital admissions
Someone who has had trouble following a treatment plan for a heart condition
Someone who makes frequent calls to their doctor seeking help for heart/chest symptoms
You, your family, your primary care doctor and your Spectrum Health heart failure specialist are a team. Working together ensures the best management of your heart problem. Making sure everyone understands the causes of heart failure and the latest tests and treatments can help you make informed decisions. And because our specialists are connected to the Richard DeVos Heart & Lung Transplant Program you are in the right hands for the best available care for congestive heart failure and other heart problems.
Helmut Hoffman's Story
An implanted heart pump (LVAD) gave Helmut his life back.