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Lifestyle Changes Up to half of patients hospitalized for heart failure are back in the hospital within 6 months. Many people return because of lifestyle factors, such as poor diet, failure to comply with medications, and social isolation. Rehabilitation Programs that offer intensive follow-up to ensure that the patient complies with lifestyle changes and medication regimens at home can reduce rehospitalization and improve survival. Patients without available rehabilitation programs should seek support from local and national heart associations and groups. A strong emotional support network is also important. Monitoring Weight Changes Patients should weigh themselves each morning and keep a record. Any changes are important: A sudden increase in weight of more than 2 - 3 pounds may indicate fluid accumulation and should prompt an immediate call to the doctor. Rapid wasting weight loss over a few months is a very serious sign and may indicate the need for surgical intervention. Dietary Factors
Surgery and Devices Revascularization Surgery Revascularization surgery helps to restore blood flow to the heart. It can treat blocked arteries in patients with coronary artery disease and may help select patients with heart failure. Surgery types include coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) and angioplasty (also called percutaneous coronary intervention [PCI]). CABG is a traditional type of open heart surgery. Angioplasty uses a catheter to inflate a balloon inside the artery. A metal stent may also be inserted during an angioplasty procedure. [For more information, see In-Depth Report #03: Coronary artery disease.]
Click the icon to see an illustrated series detailing coronary artery balloon angioplasty.
Click the icon to see an illustrated series detailing heart bypass surgery. Pacemakers Pacemakers, also called pacers, help regulate the hearts beating action, especially when the heart beats too slowly. Biventricular pacers (BVPs) are a special type of pacemaker used for patients with...
Congestive heart failure (CHF) is one of the most common reasons for hospital admission in the United States and most Western European countries. The most common cause is coronary artery disease and myocardial infarction (heart attack). Hypertension and what is called hypertensive heart disease is next on the list. Patients with congestive heart failure have a markedly increased for death.
Patients with CHF usually present to the hospital with signs of fluid overload. They become short of breath due to the buildup of excess fluid in the lung. The fluid excess interferes with the transfer of oxygen from air to blood. Classically this has been attributed to abnormal heart muscle function where the heart muscle is weakened (by heart attack, hypertension, viruses or other causes) and can no longer pump blood efficiently. In the last two decades it has become apparent that many patients (up to half in many studies) do not have weak he...
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