Strengthening a Failing Heart

Heart failure sounds like a terminal condition to many people. How can someone continue to live if their heart is failing? The heart is a muscle, and oftentimes, muscles can be made stronger. We frequently tell our patients having heart failure does not mean you need to just throw in the towel – quite the... Read more »

Kayla Carson, RN, BSN, CCRN

Kayla Carson, RN, BSN, CCRN

Heart failure sounds like a terminal condition to many people. How can someone continue to live if their heart is failing? The heart is a muscle, and oftentimes, muscles can be made stronger. We frequently tell our patients having heart failure does not mean you need to just throw in the towel – quite the opposite. I’m part of a team here at The Nebraska Medical Center which specializes in treating many types of heart failure.

Our cardiology staff includes advanced heart failure specialist physicians – doctors who are specially trained in the care of many different types of heart failure and the different treatments that can help.

After meeting with these doctors, some patients are surprised to find out that the right “cocktail” of medications and treatments, doctors can preserve, and in many cases, strengthen the heart muscle back to near normal.

For this treatment to be effective, patients must take their medications as prescribed. These cardiac medicines can help the heart by:

  • Lowering salt and water buildup
  • Increasing the strength of each heartbeat
  • Easing difficult breathing
  • Increasing energy levels

In addition, taking the proper medicines can help decrease hospital stays as well as help you live longer.  Ideally, you should use a pillbox or mediset to fill your weekly medications, and use the most updated medication list to fill that pillbox/mediset, as to avoid any missed doses.  Keep an updated medication list on you at all times and be sure to take it to all appointments so that the doctors can make adjustments accurately.

Important tip for patients:

Keep an updated medication list with you at all times.

The second step is weighing yourself daily and keeping a log of your weights. The best time to weigh yourself is first thing in the morning, after you go to the bathroom, and always with the same amount of clothing.  If you notice a weight gain of two pounds overnight or five pounds in a week, you need to contact your cardiologist right away. The sooner you contact your advanced heart failure physician, the sooner they can get your heart back on track.  It is important to contact your cardiologist immediately because the more fluid your body retains, the weaker your heart will get.

Even when you are taking the right medications and following up with your cardiologist on a routine basis, there are times your heart can continue to weaken. If that happens, even more advanced options are possible.  Here at the med center, we offer advanced therapies such a mechanical assistive devices and heart transplantation for such cases.  Here at the med center, we’ve taken a strong interest in using the most advanced therapies to help people in ways they didn’t even know were possible. We’re proud to be a national leader in treating heart failure with devices like left ventricular assist devices (LVAD) and the only medical center in the region with a heart transplant program.

We are here to help! To connect with a member of The Nebraska Medical Centers’ Heart Failure team call 1-800-922-0000 or visit us online for more information.

Kayla Carlson RN, BSN, CCRN

Heart Failure / Transplant Coordinator

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