Heart Failure Care

Find West Michigan’s most extensive care for heart failure at Spectrum Health. Our dedicated team offers a full range of services and individualized care focused on helping you feel better, slow the progression of your disease and enjoy a better quality of life.

What is Heart Failure?

Heart failure is when your heart has trouble pumping blood because it has become weak or stiff. That means other cells in your body don’t get all the oxygen and nutrients they need to work well.

Heart failure is a serious condition. Treatment may help you slow or stop its progression.

Heart Failure Specialists

Get care from medical professionals who focus on the unique concerns of heart failure patients. Our team includes physicians board certificated in advanced heart failure and transplant cardiology. So, you know they have the special knowledge and skills to care for you.

When you choose Spectrum Health, you benefit from the expertise of our entire team. That’s because each week our doctors get together to discuss the best ways to care for their heart failure patients. It’s like getting 20 second opinions from some of Michigan’s most experienced heart doctors.

Diagnosing Heart Failure

If your doctor thinks you may have heart failure, he or she may: 

  • Review your medical history 
  • Perform a physical exam 
  • Call for additional tests, such as blood tests and cardiovascular imaging tests 

Learn more about heart and vascular diagnostic tests at Spectrum Health.

Treatments for Heart Failure

At Spectrum Health, you and your care team have access to every tool available to manage and treat heart failure. Whether you’re in the early stages of heart failure or need advanced treatments, you’ll find options that help you feel better today—and in the months ahead.

Lifestyle Factors

Keep your heart in the best shape possible by adopting healthful habits. Your care team may recommend that you: 

  • Avoid alcohol and tobacco 
  • Eat a low-sodium diet 
  • Exercise according to your care team’s guidance 
  • Maintain a healthy weight 
  • Manage stress 
  • Track your fluid intake 

Learn how cardiac rehabilitation at Spectrum Health can help you control your heart failure symptoms through lifestyle changes.

Common Heart Failure Medications

Your care plan may include medications, such as: 

  • ACE inhibitor – Reduces your heart’s workload and may lower your blood pressure 
  • Beta blocker – Slows your heart rate, may lower your blood pressure and helps regulate your heart rhythm 
  • Diuretic – Helps your body get rid of extra fluid to decrease swelling and make breathing easier 
  • Neprilysin inhibitor plus an ARB – Improves your heart’s ability to pump blood 

Take all medications your physician prescribes. Do not stop taking your prescription or skip a dose unless your doctor tells you it’s OK.

Surgery

Your doctor may recommend surgery to treat conditions that contribute to heart failure (such as blocked arteries or heart valve problems) or treat your heart failure. Access a full range of heart surgeries and procedures at Spectrum Health, including: 

  • Coronary artery bypass graft surgery – Improves blood flow to the heart 
  • Heart transplant – Replaces your heart with a healthy donor heart 
  • Heart valve surgery – Repairs for replaces a damaged heart valve 
  • Pacemaker or implantable cardiac defibrillator (ICD) surgery – Places a cardiac device that monitors and regulates your heartbeat 
  • Protected percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) with Impella® – Improves or restores blood flow to your heart with the help of an Impella heart pump 
  • Ventricular assist device (VAD) surgery – Places a mechanical pump that helps your heart pump blood

Specialized Inpatient Care

If you need to stay in the hospital, you’ll benefit from teams and facilities dedicated to patients like you. Spectrum Health Fred and Lena Meijer Heart Center in Grand Rapids includes: 

  • Care teams lead by heart failure specialists 
  • Nurse navigators and care managers who help you plan for a successful transition home 
  • Advanced cardiopulmonary care unit dedicated to caring for people with heart failure 
  • Cardiothoracic critical care unit dedicated to caring for people who need mechanical circulatory support (devices that help your heart pump) or are recovering from heart surgery 
  • Around-the-clock access to a team that specializes in quick, life-saving treatment when the heart suddenly can’t pump enough blood

Advanced Heart Failure Program

If your symptoms get worse or you stop responding to treatments that used to work well for you, your cardiologist may refer you to our advanced heart failure program. We’ll help you find new ways to manage your condition and live more comfortably. 

Services include: 

  • Care coordinated by a heart failure cardiologist 
  • Care navigation from a social worker or case manager 
  • Palliative care to manage symptoms and side effects 
  • Remote monitoring that lets your care team monitor your health from a distance so they can catch problems early and help you avoid unnecessary hospitalizations 
  • Onsite intravenous (IV) therapy and blood draws 
  • Heart failure specialty nurses
  • Clinical pharmacist to review medication and counseling for interactions and side effects
  • Advance cardiomyopathy specialized care

The advanced heart failure program is offered at Fred and Lena Meijer Heart Center in Grand Rapids. Providers are also available in regional satellite clinics.

Heart Failure Care Team

Get integrated care from a multidisciplinary team that works together for you.

Cardiologist
Cardiologist

Diagnoses and treats heart disease

Heart failure specialist
Heart failure specialist

Focuses on caring for people with heart failure

Cardiothoracic surgeon
Cardiothoracic surgeon

Uses surgery to treat conditions affecting your heart and other chest organs

Nurse practitioner (NP)
Nurse practitioner (NP)

Provide care and treatment

Cardiovascular imaging specialist
Cardiovascular imaging specialist

Uses imaging technology to help diagnose or monitor your heart disease

Pharmacist
Pharmacist

Helps you get the right medications and understand how to take the safely

Heart Failure Nurse
Heart Failure Nurse

Provides care and education

Social worker
Social worker

Helps you navigate the health care system

When to Call Your Heart Failure Doctor

To help prevent heart failure complications, call your cardiologist if you experience:

  • Dry, hacking cough
  • Increased shortness of breath with activity
  • Weight gain of more than 2 to 3 pounds in 24 hours or 5 pounds in one week
  • Swollen legs, feet or ankles
  • Swollen abdomen
  • Unable to lay flat or require sleeping in a recliner due to shortness of breath
  • Trouble sleeping

Call 9-1-1 or go to the closest emergency department if you experience:

  • Chest pain or discomfort
  • Shortness of breath when resting
  • New or worsening dizziness

Get a Second Opinion

Feel certain you’re getting the best care with a second opinion at Spectrum Health.