Living with Heart Failure
Yes, if you take care of your health and follow your doctor's treatment plan. Our Columbia & Weill Cornell Medicine heart failure doctors recommend:
- Regularly checking your blood pressure and taking hypertension and any other heart medications as prescribed
- Avoiding smoking
- Eating a heart-healthy diet and controlling cholesterol
- Exercising regularly
- Achieving and maintaining a healthy weight
- Avoid excessive alcohol use
There is no cure for heart failure, but there are steps you can take — such as taking medicines your doctor prescribes, maintaining a healthy weight, exercising, and eating a healthy diet — which can improve your overall health and slow the progression of your heart failure.
Despite treatment, you may still experience a worsening of your symptoms over time and you may not be able to do all of the things you did before you had heart failure. This worsening may happen more quickly if you do not take your heart medications, continue to be overweight, or maintain other unhealthy behaviors, such as smoking or following a poor diet. However, if you follow your treatment plan as recommended by your doctor, you can stay healthier longer.
Your symptoms may get worse, such as more shortness of breath and feeling more tired than usual. Tests your doctor orders may show that your heart rate is faster and your heart is not pumping as strongly (a measure called left ventricular ejection fraction, which declines as heart failure gets worse). You may also gain weight as your body retains more water and notice increased swelling in your legs.
Heart failure is treated through a combination of lifestyle changes, medication, and, if necessary, surgery. At NewYork-Presbyterian, we evaluate each patient thoroughly to determine what treatments work best. We offer the full range of therapies, based on the latest medical research, including:
- Medications to reduce blood pressure, heart rate, and fluid build-up and improve blood flow.
- Implanted devices (pacemakers and implantable cardioverter defibrillators) to manage heart rhythm problems associated with heart failure for people whose symptoms are not well controlled by medication or exercise.
- Remote monitoring devices to follow changes in your heart in between office visits
- Left ventricular assist devices (LVADs) — surgically implanted mechanical support for the heart in people with advanced heart failure.
- Heart transplantation for eligible patients with end-stage heart failure that is not responding to other treatments.
Through our Centralized Heart Failure Management Program, we provide care for a lifetime for anyone with heart failure treated at any hospital in the NewYork-Presbyterian healthcare system. Our dedicated team of heart failure specialists uses telephone check-ins, telehealth visits, support groups, and remote monitoring devices to care for people with heart failure in their homes throughout the New York tri-state area. Our goal is to keep you out of the hospital and at home, living your best life possible.