Heart failure care in Virginia
HCA Virginia's heart failure programs are dedicated to providing individualized treatment plans for heart failure. Our specialists will help you maximize your quality of life through medication, rehabilitation and education for you and your family. We can provide this care whether your condition is already well-controlled or you are experiencing active heart failure. Our cardiovascular teams will focus on your overall wellness, helping you manage symptoms and return to health as quickly as possible.
For more information about our primary care services or for help finding a doctor, call our free, 24/7 Consult-A-Nurse line.
Understanding heart failure
Heart failure is a condition in which the heart muscle becomes too weak to properly pump blood throughout the body. The lack of sufficient blood flow throughout the body causes a variety of health problems. This may include fluid build-up in the lungs, feet and other parts of the body, depending on which part of the heart is affected by the disease. This condition is often known as simply "congestive heart failure (CHF)," but CHF is actually the term for the stage of heart failure in which fluid builds up.
Heart failure isn’t completely curable and can't be "reversed," but it can be well-managed to prevent further damage and allow you to lead a full and enjoyable life.
Heart failure risks
Because heart failure can worsen over time, our cardiologists are aggressive in treating it as soon as possible to prevent it from worsening. Knowing if you are at risk of CHF can help us accomplish that.
Your risk of heart failure may be higher if you have any of these heart- and vascular-related conditions:
- Abnormal heart rhythm (arrhythmia)
- Abnormal heart valves
- A previous heart attack
- Coronary artery disease
- Heart abnormalities present at birth (congenital heart disease)
- High blood pressure (hypertension or HBP)
- Severe lung disease
- Sleep apnea
Preventing heart failure
Heart failure is a chronic disease, meaning once you've been diagnosed, you will have to manage those symptoms for the rest of your life. An early diagnosis—and following the treatment plan recommended by your cardiologist—is the best way to prevent heart failure from worsening.
Heart failure symptoms
Many people may be unaware of the signs of heart failure. The following are symptoms commonly associated with a CHF diagnosis:
- Chronic fatigue
- Edema (swelling) in the ankles, feet and legs
- Pain in the chest
- Rapid or irregular heartbeat
- Reduced ability to be active and exercise
- Shortness of breath
- Sudden weight gain
Screening for heart failure
Heart failure is a progressive disease, so our heart care teams emphasize the importance of early detection. If you identify with any of the symptoms above or have risk factors for heart disease, we recommend you undergo diagnostic heart testing to determine if heart failure is present.
Heart failure treatment
Your heart failure treatment plan will depend on how far your condition has advanced. However, lifestyle changes, such as losing weight, exercising regularly and maintaining a healthy diet will always be part of your course of care. If needed, your cardiologist may add dietary counseling and/or medication(s) to your treatment. In every case, we will address any underlying causes of heart failure and provide treatments and procedures to treat those health conditions as well.
If you're experiencing advanced-stage heart failure, you may need cardiovascular surgery. Surgical procedures offered to treat CHF include:
- Coronary artery bypass graft (CABG)
- Heart valve repair or replacement
- Pacemaker or implantable cardiac defibrillator (lCD)
- Device implants, such as:
- Cardiac resynchronization therapy (CRT)
- Implantable cardioverter-defibrillators (ICDs)
For some, clinical trials may also be useful. Talk to your doctor about the clinical trials in our network of hospitals to find out if they may be right for you.
Rehabilitation and monitoring
We will work closely with you and your referring doctor to develop a personalized treatment plan. The goal of heart failure treatment is to strengthen your heart muscle, improve your general health and avoid hospitalization. This means that you may require physical therapy and rehabilitation before or after your treatment. At HCA Virginia, our hospitals offer cardiovascular rehabilitation, which is a specially designed to meet the needs of heart patients and help them fully recover.
Care Assure Program
If you have heart failure, our care for you doesn’t end when you are discharged from our hospital. Through our Care Assure Program, we follow up with CHF patients to make sure they receive the care they need following their hospital visits. Our goal is to help you successfully manage your heart condition and symptoms as you transition out of the hospital.