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What Exactly is Heart Failure?

The term “heart failure” may sound like the heart is not working at all anymore. However, in reality, it means that the heart is not pumping enough blood to meet the body’s needs. Cells throughout the body require oxygen- and nutrient-rich blood to function properly. Without it, symptoms such as shortness of breath, fatigue and coughing can occur. Everyday activities such as walking, grocery shopping or climbing stairs become very difficult.

To compensate, the heart enlarges and gains muscle mass in order to contract more strongly. It also pumps more quickly to keep up with the body’s demand. Blood vessels narrow to increase blood pressure, and the body starts diverting blood away from less important tissues. These strategies don’t last long, and eventually the patient’s symptoms worsen.

If you or a loved one is dealing with heart failure (HF), you know how difficult it can be to manage the condition. It requires constant monitoring of symptoms to ensure you identify a potential problem before it becomes worse. Even with the most vigilant care and monitoring, however, hospitalizations are a fact of life for HF patients.

The threat of frequent hospitalizations has a significant impact on the quality of life and well-being of heart failure patients. Abington’s Heart and Vascular Institute offers specialty care for heart failure patients. Our specialists customize treatment for you, using the newest innovative and effective methods. Heart failure therapies include: lifestyle changes and medications; cardiac pacemakers and defibrillators; ventricular assist devices (VAD or LVAD) for when other approaches have been insufficient; the CardioMEMS HF System and aquapheresis ultrafiltration.

For more information about our experts and our state-of-the-art diagnostic and treatment program, visit JeffersonHealth.org/AbingtonHeart.

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