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Heart Failure Facts That You Should Know | Piedmont Healthcare

Athens, Ga. (June 20, 2018) – With more than 5 million Americans living with heart failure today and an estimated 550,000 new cases diagnosed each year, knowing the facts about this condition is more important than ever, says Piedmont Athens heart failure expert Catherine Marti, M.D.

“Heart failure is more common than many people realize,” said Dr. Marti, who is board-certified in treating advanced heart failure. “Knowing and understanding the basics about this condition is the key to not only the prevention of, but also the management of, heart failure.”    

What is heart failure?

According to the American Heart Association (AHA), heart failure is a chronic, progressive condition in which the heart muscle is weakened and cannot pump enough blood to meet the body's needs for blood and oxygen.

“Hearing the term ‘heart failure’ can seem to mean that the heart is no longer working, leading a lot of people to believe there’s nothing that can be done,” Dr. Marti said. “That’s actually not the case at all. Heart failure is a serious condition, usually with no cure, but with the right treatment, it’s very manageable.”

What causes heart failure?

Most people who develop heart failure have another heart condition, such as coronary artery disease or high blood pressure. “It is also more likely to occur in older adults because, as we age, there can be damage to the heart, but it’s possible for anyone can develop it,” Dr. Marti said.

Aside from other heart conditions, lifestyle factors, like physical inactivity, smoking, being overweight, and eating foods high in fat and cholesterol can also increase the risk of heart failure. “Fortunately, many of these lifestyle factors that increase your risk are things that you can control and change,” Dr. Marti said.

What are common symptoms of heart failure?

Symptoms of heart failure include shortness of breath, persistent coughing or wheezing, buildup of fluid in the body, tiredness or fatigue, lack of appetite or nausea, confusion or impaired thinking and increased heart rate. “These symptoms alone shouldn’t cause alarm, but if you have two or more of these symptoms, seek guidance from your doctor,” Dr. Marti recommends. 

How is heart failure treated?

For those diagnosed with heart failure, there are multiple treatment options for managing the condition. “Treating the underlying causes of heart failure, such as high blood pressure, is where we typically start. There are also numerous medications that we use to treat heart failure,” Dr. Marti said. “Thankfully, a lot of these treatment options are available locally.”

In more serious heart failure cases where simpler lifestyle changes and medications aren’t working, left ventricular assist devices (LVADs), or heart transplants are also considered.

Although it’s a serious condition, many people diagnosed with heart failure lead full, enjoyable lives when managed by with proper treatment and the right lifestyle changes, according to the AHA.

Piedmont Athens Regional features a dedicated heart failure clinic, as well as an advanced heart failure unit, serving those newly diagnosed with heart failure and heart failure patients in need of more advanced care.

Support the Magill-Miller Advanced Heart Failure Clinic at Piedmont Heart Athens


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