Heart and Vascular Center

Heart Failure Program

The highly skilled medical experts at the St. Joseph Hospital Heart Failure Program provide evidence-based care for heart failure patients at a compliance level that is higher than the national average.

Our mission is to equip our patients and their families with the tools necessary to manage heart failure for improved quality of life and minimal hospitalization. We provide one-on-one education to our patients and their caregivers on topics that include: medications, lifestyle modification, symptoms to recognize and when to contact the physician.

Our assessment and follow-up includes:

  • Telephone calls: a registered nurse will call you at home after discharge from the hospital or to follow-up. You may contact the heart failure nurse at any time if you have questions or concerns.
  • Inpatient (hospital) education: Prior to discharge, you will receive educational materials and resources. If possible, it is best to have your significant other or caregiver with you during this education session. A video about heart failure is available for you and your family to view as many times as necessary.
  • Outpatient visits: A registered nurse will work closely with your cardiologist or primary care physician to help you manage symptoms of heart failure and prevent hospital admission. These visits have a large emphasis on education and should include the attendance of family members or caretakers whenever possible.

How do I enroll in the St. Joseph Hospital Heart Failure Program?

You may be referred to the program after a hospital admission or directly from your doctor’s office. Talk with your cardiologist or primary care physician about whether or not the St. Joseph Hospital Heart Failure Program is right for you.

What is Heart Failure?

Heart Failure is a condition that affects the heart’s ability to pump and receive blood. This decreases the ability of the heart to maintain the needs of the body and might lead to congestion of the lungs and body with fluid; thus the old term “Congestive Heart Failure.”

What are the common risk factors for heart failure?

  • High Blood Pressure
  • Coronary Artery Disease (CAD) or Previous Heart Attack
  • Diabetes
  • Increased age
  • Smoking
  • Obesity
  • Drug or Alcohol abuse
  • Family History

What can I do to decrease my risk?

According to Maged F. Azer, MD, FAAC, medical director of the St. Joseph Hospital Heart Failure Program, “The best treatment of heart failure is prevention.” You can decrease your risk by:

  • Adequately treating high blood pressure
  • Exercising
  • Losing weight (speak with your physician about a goal that is right for you)
  • Quit smoking and avoid second-hand smoke
  • Avoid excessive alcohol intake (ask your physician about what is right for you)
  • Eat a low-cholesterol and low-fat diet
  • Early detection (knowing what to look for)

What are the symptoms of heart failure?

  • Swelling in the feet, ankles or abdomen
  • Shortness of breath or cough that won’t go away
  • Excessive urination at night
  • Weight gain of more than 2 pounds overnight
  • Fatigue, dizziness or lightheadedness
  • A change in ability to do daily activities
  • “Racing” heart rate

What should I do if I have these symptoms?

  • Seek medical advice from your health care provider early on; avoid waiting until symptoms grow worse.
  • If symptoms progress, go to the Emergency Department for evaluation.

The key to successfully treating heart failure is to diagnose the condition in its earliest stages and manage it aggressively to prevent symptoms from worsening.