Heart failure refers to the heart failing to pump efficiently. There are many diseases that cause this including cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, viral infections, alcohol, and diseases affecting the valves of the heart. When the heart is inefficient, a number of symptoms occur depending on the cause and severity of the condition. The main symptoms are tiredness, breathlessness on exertion or lying flat, and ankle swelling. Doctors often refer to oedema, which means fluid retention usually in your feet or lungs as a result of the heart not pumping efficiently.
Tests looking for possible causes of heart failure include:
· Chest X-ray
· Electrocardiogram (ECG)
· Echocardiogram (Cardiac ultrasound)
You are likely to have several medications over time, started and monitored by your cardiologist/Heart Failure Nurse Specialist (HFNS) and GP. These include medication to control the amount of fluid that builds up (diuretics), medication to protect your heart and slow it down as well as to thin your blood.
Advice and written material on fluid, salt restriction, compliance with prescribed medication as well as support on self-care management will be given by the HFNS on an individualised basis at the Heart Failure Clinic situated on the Greenlane site.
To talk to one of the three Heart Failure Nurse Specialists please phone the Hospital Operator ( 307 4949 ) and ask for the on call Heart Failure Nurse or phone 021 748 355.
The cardiologist/HFNS and your GP usually share follow-up for this condition.
You may be referred to a dietitian for individual dietary assessment and/or an exercise specialist for an individualised exercise programme.
An Information Booklet on Heart Failure is available from the National Heart Foundation ph (09) 571 9191.