February 14-20, 2021 is Heart Failure Awareness Week
February 16 2021 – Monisha John, APRN, is passionate about reducing the number of men and women who suffer from heart disease. She is the stroke and heart failure program coordinator at Broward Health Imperial Point in Fort Lauderdale. She answers frequently asked questions about heart failure.
What is heart failure? 
Heart failure is a condition in which the heart does not pump well. As a result, fluid backs up in the body, and the organs in the body do not get as much blood as they need. If you have heart failure, your heart has not actually "failed" or stopped beating. It just isn’t working as well as it should.
What are some causes of heart failure? 
There are several conditions that can cause heart failure, including high blood pressure, irregular heart rhythms and coronary heart disease, where the arteries that supply blood to the heart become clogged with fatty deposits. Other conditions are heart valve disease, longstanding alcohol abuse, and cardiomyopathy related to different medical conditions such as autoimmune disorders, a genetic mutation, or an infection. 
What are some symptoms of heart failure? 
Shortness of breath, swelling (edema) in the feet, ankles, and legs or in the abdomen. Other symptoms include tiredness or weakness, or feeling lightheaded or dizzy, a racing heartbeat even while resting, and in advanced stages of heart failure unintentional weight loss can be a symptom.
What can you do if you think you could have heart failure?
Speak with your healthcare provider. They can do tests to diagnose you such as an electrocardiogram (ECG); a blood test known as "brain natriuretic peptide" (BNP) or "N-terminal pro-BNP" (NT-proBNP); a chest X-ray; echocardiogram, a “stress” test, and additional imaging tests such as computed tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and nuclear scanning. 
What can I do on my own to protect my heart?
Lifestyle changes such as exercising, quitting smoking, limiting alcohol, reducing sodium in your diet, managing stress and losing weight can improve your quality of life. Take your medicines, even if you feel well. Watch for changes in your symptoms and follow an action plan provided by your healthcare provider. 
To learn more about Broward Health Imperial Point’s heart failure services, visit BrowardHealth.org/HeartFailure or call Monisha John at 954.776.8987.