Heart failure is an indication that the heart is no longer working at its full potential. The heart is unable to pump blood as well as normal, which prevents the heart from receiving all the blood and oxygen it requires. Lifestyle changes and medication are popular treatment plans to combat heart failure.
Diagnosing and preventing heart failure in Middle Tennessee
Heart failure can have a major impact on your life, but we can help.
There is no cure for heart failure, but effectively addressing it can dramatically improve your quality of life. TriStar Medical Group's specialists offer medications, surgery and support for lifestyle changes to better manage your heart health.
Learn more about our related specialties.
Symptoms of heart failure
Heart failure symptoms vary from person to person. This is why we treat your condition like the unique case that it is. If you are concerned about yourself, seek medical attention as soon as possible. Whether your symptoms of heart failure are getting worse or they seem intermittent, here are some common signs to look our for:
- Persistent coughing or wheezing
- Rapid or irregular heartbeat
- Reduced ability to exercise
- Shortness of breath whether exerting yourself or lying down
- Swelling (edema) in your legs, ankles and feet
Heart failure services we provide
From medication management and lifestyle coaching to surgical intervention, we offer a variety of services to help you effectively manage heart failure and regain control of your life.
Heart failure treatments
Congestive heart failure (CHF) prevents your heart from efficiently pumping blood to your body, and is usually a biproduct of high blood pressure, coronary artery disease or heart attacks. CHF worsens with time, so if you are concerned about your condition, we will design a comprehensive, individualized care plan to get you back to living life to its fullest. This begins with a proper diagnosis, using methods including blood tests, electrocardiograms (ECG) and computerized tomography scans (CT).
Heart failure requires lifelong management but with proper treatment for the underlying cause, your symptoms may improve and your heart can potentially become stronger. Treatment can come in the form of lifestyle changes, medications and, in some cases, surgery.
Heart failure medications
Depending on your condition, medication can help manage your symptoms, as well as helping to strengthen your heart's pumping action or expand the blood vessels to improve circulation. Your cardiologist may also prescribe other medications to reduce the amount of water and sodium in the body to reduce the heart's workload. It is very important to keep track of your medications and closely follow your doctor's instructions.
While there is no cure for heart failure, surgery can help improve your symptoms or prevent further damage to your heart. Coronary artery bypass surgery is sometimes recommended if your heart is severely damaged and has lost the majority of its pumping ability. During this surgery, the surgeon removes the damaged areas of scar tissue to help your heart pump more efficiently. If you require heart surgery, your cardiologist will discuss all your options and connect you with one our expert cardiovascular surgeons.
Your doctor may also recommend the following lifestyle changes to slow heart failure progression:
- Avoiding or limiting alcohol consumption to one drink, two or three times a week
- Avoiding or limiting caffeine
- Eating a low-fat, low-sodium diet
- Exercising several times a week, at least 30 minutes per day
- Losing weight
- Quitting smoking
- Reducing stress
While you are in the process of changing your lifestyle to reduce heart failure risks and manage symptoms, it is critical to keep track of your symptoms as they come and report any changes to your physician, who you should be seeing regularly.
Risk factors for heart failure
In addition to high blood pressure, coronary artery disease and heart attacks, there are certain conditions that can increase your risk for experiencing heart failure. These include diabetes, obesity and heart valve conditions. Additionally, lifestyle adjustments can be made to lower your risk, including diets heavy in sodium, fat and cholesterol, as well as a sedentary daily routine, smoking and excessively drinking alcohol.
Tips for living with heart failure
Even though you may need to make certain adjustments, you can still live a happy life with heart failure. Use these tips, along with your doctor's recommendations, for optimal heart health:
- Ask your doctor about getting the flu or pneumonia shot
- Ask your doctor about how much alcohol you are allowed to drink with your specific condition
- Ask your doctor for advice on how to quit smoking
- Keep a current medication list in your wallet or purse for emergency situations
- Know what you need to do to travel and go on vacation
- Monitor your blood pressure, pulse and weight
- Never stop taking prescribed medication without talking to your doctor
- Research your condition