February is Heart Month: Innovations in Heart Failure Care

February is Heart Month: Innovations in Heart Failure Care

Heart failure affects more than 5 million Americans. It is a chronic, progressive disease in which the heart’s ability to pump blood is reduced and the heart does not pump enough blood for the body’s need for oxygen. Knowing a few facts can be important to the health of heart failure patients.

Each year, more than 1 million people are hospitalized for heart failure and of those, 250,000 will be re-hospitalized within 30 days. According to a recent study published in the Journal of Cardiac Failure, there is a significant increase in heart failure hospitalizations following popular events and holidays such as Super Bowl Sunday, the Fourth of July and Christmas, among others.

Only your doctor can tell if you have heart failure and how far the condition has progressed. If you or someone you care about experiences any of these symptoms, talk with a doctor. They will review your medical history, including past and present illnesses, family history and lifestyle. As part of your physical examination, the doctor will check your heart, lungs, abdomen and legs to see if signs of heart failure are present. Also ask your doctor about an important key indicator of heart health called ejection fraction, which can help to diagnose heart failure and determine the best treatment plan.

Common treatment for heart failure includes medical therapy and lifestyle modifications. For some patients, many cardiology leaders say cardiac resynchronization therapy (CRT), a device-based treatment that may help improve the pumping function of the heart, can be a beneficial option.

Specifically, a CRT device is a type of pacemaker or defibrillator, implanted under the skin of the upper chest, with thin wires called leads that connect the device to the heart. These leads deliver electrical pulses to keep the ventricles (bottom chambers of the heart) beating in a synchronized rhythm. In some patients, this helps improve the overall pumping efficiency of the heart, which lessens the symptoms of heart failure and has also been shown to improve quality of life and increase lifespan. CRT is not for everyone, and not everyone who receives an implanted device benefits from the therapy.

Heart failure patients and their caregivers should talk with their cardiologist about the benefits and risks associated with the latest tools in heart failure management and if CRT is an appropriate option. For more information about cardiac resynchronization therapy, visit www.medtronic.com/heartfailureinfo .