Heart failure (HF) results in ~900,000 hospitalizations annually and is the leading cause of hospitalization for Americans over the age of 65. There are 6.5 million Americans living with the condition in the U.S., where the heart is unable to pump blood around the body efficiently, with about half suffering from a certain type of long-lasting HF. And while HF can affect anyone, certain factors place people at greater risk.
That’s why it’s so important to raise awareness about HF, the common symptoms and ways to treat it. HF is a chronic, progressive condition and is sometimes described as a weak heart.
The most common symptoms, which can be mild and are often under-recognized and attributed to old age, include:
- Shortness of breath
- Swelling in the abdomen, legs, feet and/or ankles
- Fatigue – making it hard to do every day activities like grocery shopping or lacing up shoes
The outlook for hospitalized HF patients is poor, with one in five re-admitted to the hospital and up to 10% likely to die within 30 days of discharge. Both men and women suffer from HF and the prevalence and prognosis of the condition are less favorable among African-Americans, according to the American Heart Association.
The good news is that people can learn how to manage the condition, which may help reduce the risk of HF hospitalization. There have been treatment improvements in recent years, and new research published in the New England Journal of Medicine provides insights to benefits of treating HF during a hospitalization.
There are also diet and lifestyle tips to help manage HF and ways to reduce the risk of developing it in some patients.
Join me in a recent interview with, Beth Davidson, DNP, ACNP, CHFN, CCRN, a nurse practitioner who specializes in heart failure management from Nashville, TN, and Michele, a patient living with heart failure who shares her story.
See the entire interview here:
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Beth Towery Davidson DNP, ACNP, CHFN, CCRN
Beth Towery Davidson is the Director of the Heart Failure Disease Management Program at TriStar Centennial Medical Center in Nashville, TN, a charter member of the American Association of Heart Failure Nurses (AAHFN), and is currently serving her second term on the Board of Directors as President Elect.
Beth has authored and co-authored several publications, and most recently, was a contributing author for the AAHFN Advanced Heart Failure textbook. She is a frequent speaker at many local and national venues.
In addition, Beth is a member of the Middle Tennessee Advanced Practice Nurses, American Association of Critical Care Nurses, Sigma Theta Tau International, Heart Failure Society of America and a founding member of the Middle Tennessee Heart Failure Journal Club. Beth received the 2014 March of Dimes Nurse of the Year award for Advanced Practice and the Vanderbilt University School of Nursing Alumni Award for Clinical Achievement in 2007.
She earned her BSN from Western Kentucky University, her MSN from Vanderbilt University, and in 2007 completed her DNP from the University of Tennessee Health Sciences Center.
Chronic Heart Failure Patient, Michele N.
Michele, 63, leads a busy life as a business manager, a recovery support group leader and an active member of her church. In 2016, she started experiencing swelling in her legs and shortness of breath. She went to a physician for what she thought were allergies and asthma. But the symptoms worsened, and soon Michele wasn’t able to walk to her car after work without help from a coworker or taking breaks. Her physician referred her to a cardiologist, and, after an echocardiogram, Michele was diagnosed with a chronic type of heart failure. Having lost her mother 12 years earlier to heart failure, she was terrified to hear her diagnosis. But Michele’s cardiologist prescribed a medication for heart failure, and, while treatment impacts everyone differently, she is back to her activities and has not been hospitalized for the condition, which drives approximately 900,000 to the hospital each year. In addition to medications, Michele altered her lifestyle to manage her condition by walking more often and reducing her salt intake.
*Interview sponsored by Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation