Managing and Treating Heart Failure at All Stages

Over one million Americans are living with heart failure, also called congestive heart failure. If you have heart failure, you heart is unable to pump oxygen-rich blood from your heart to the rest of your body. Heart failure can be caused by a number of conditions, including:

  • Coronary artery disease – damage or buildup in the heart’s blood vessels
  • Heart valve disease – heart valves that do not work properly
  • High blood pressure – uncontrolled blood pressure can weaken the heart
  • Irregular heart rhythms – irregular heart rhythms can cause disruptions in the flow of blood from the heart

Symptoms, Diagnosis and Outlook

The symptoms of heart failure can vary depending on the cause of the heart failure and how long you have had the disease. Symptoms may include:

  • Bloated stomach (water retention)
  • Confusion and dizziness
  • Coughing that worsens when lying down
  • Fatigue and weakness
  • Feeling full after eating
  • Frequent urination
  • Nausea
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Shortness of breath
  • Swollen feet and legs (water retention)
  • Trouble breathing when laying down
  • Weight gain

When you are diagnosed with heart failure, you may be overwhelmed and have a lot of questions. The team at Penn State Health will work with you and your family to develop a treatment plan that manages your symptoms and helps protect your heart from further damage. We may perform additional tests to develop your treatment plan, including:

  • Cardiac catheterization
  • Echocardiogram
  • Electrogradiogram
  • Imaging tests
  • Nuclear thallium test
  • Stress echocardiogram

Heart failure is a chronic condition that will need ongoing treatment. Your ability to have a good quality of life while living with heart failure will depend on the health of your heart, underlying health conditions, age, weight and lifestyle habits. The heart failure team at Penn State Health will partner with you to help you maintain your quality of life and avoid unnecessary hospital stays.

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Why Choose Penn State Health for Care

Advanced Care for End-Stage Heart Failure

If your heart failure does not respond to medical therapy, our team provides leading-edge surgical options and a level of care that is unmatched in the region. Our surgeons are skilled in innovative surgical treatments, including total artificial heart, heart transplant surgery and Ventricular Assist Device (VAD). VAD is used as a short-term bridge to transplant or as a long-term treatment for some patients.

A Comprehensive, Multidisciplinary Team Approach

Our specialists offer more than just a comprehensive diagnosis for your heart failure. We are a team of medical, surgical and support specialists who work together to offer you solutions to help maintain your quality of life and prevent further damage to your heart. Your heart failure team works with other specialists in the Heart and Vascular Institute, including electrophysiologists and cardiac surgeons for surgical or interventional procedures. You may also see support specialists to help control symptoms. You may also be enrolled in our cardiac rehabilitation program, which includes nutrition guidance, smoking cessation, emotional support and weight reduction.

National Recognition for High-Quality Heart Care

The heart team at Penn State Health St. Joseph Medical Center stands alongside the nation’s finest in helping people prevent potential cardiac problems.

Awards earned this year:

  • National Cardiovascular Data Registry Chest Pain MI Registry Platinum Performance Award – American College of Cardiology
  • Get With The Guidelines® Heart Failure Gold Plus Award – American Heart Association 
  • Get With the Guidelines® Type 2 Diabetes Honor Roll – American Heart Association

This advanced level of recognition signifies that the team at St. Joseph Medical Center has met specific quality measures for diagnosing and treating heart failure consistently during the past 24 months. Hospitals that achieve gold-level status use the latest evidence-based guidelines to ensure appropriate patient care and reduce hospital readmissions.

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