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Congestive Heart Failure Clinic

Causes of Congestive Heart Failure
If you have congestive heart failure (CHF), your heart is unable to effectively pump blood to meet your body's needs. This may be because of heart muscle weakness, such as after a series of heart attacks; valvular disease like aortic stenosis; post viral infection; or toxic injury from alcohol. Symptoms frequently include shortness of breath — particularly while lying down — leg swelling, and awakening from sleep gasping for air. CHF is a cause for serious concern.

Individualized Congestive Heart Failure Outpatient Services
At the Congestive Heart Failure Clinic at the New England Heart and Vascular Institute, the outlook for patients with CHF continues to improve. After you are referred to this outpatient clinic, you will undergo an initial consultation by a trained heart failure nurse and a nurse practitioner, who consult with a cardiologist on your individualized plan of care. The nurse provides education and collects information to help guide your treatment.

During office appointments and telephone follow-up calls to monitor your symptoms, the nurse practitioner adjusts your medications as needed, and educates you about the disease process and medical management. You also will see the cardiologist during follow-up visits. During your treatment you will complete a six-minute walk test. A graduated exercise program will be created for you, as moderate exercise conditions your muscles to take best advantage of your heart's output, which can reduce your heart failure symptoms. You may repeat the six-minute walk test to gauge your progress during treatment.

Medication and Lifestyle Management
Several groups of medications have been shown to prolong life and reduce hospitalizations in patients with CHF. Optimal treatment involves more than prescribing the right medicine. It requires your full support in working with the healthcare team to manage your heart failure. The main reason for re-hospitalization is discontinuing prescribed medications, dietary indiscretions, and not identifying early signs of worsening heart failure. Our goal is to not only provide you with the best medical treatment possible, but also education on diet, medications, exercise, and most importantly, symptoms to report before a trip to the hospital becomes necessary.

Inpatient Congestive Heart Failure Services
If your congestive heart failure worsens and you need to be hospitalized, heart failure specialists from the New England Heart and Vascular Institute at Catholic Medical Center provide a continuum of care during your hospital stay. This oversight of your care continues after your release and your return to the Congestive Heart Failure Clinic as an outpatient.

Latest Congestive Heart Failure Treatments
As part of your treatment, you may be prescribed a diuretic to remove excess fluids from your body and reduce the stress on your heart. If your body doesn’t tolerate diuretics well, a reintroduced treatment option is ultrafiltration, a process that removes excess fluid and sodium from your body using a special device.

If your congestive heart failure becomes advanced, you may be a candidate for the implantation of a left ventricular assist device (LVAD) by cardiovascular surgeons at CMC. This device helps your heart pump blood throughout your body if your heart is too weak to pump on its own. An LVAD can also be a bridge to a heart transplant.

For more information on the Congestive Heart Failure Clinic at the New England Heart and Vascular Institute, call (603) 669-0413.
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