My Marvellous Guide to being told you have heart failure

Heart failure affects close to 1,000,000 people in the UK, so you are not alone.

This is the last time we will refer to heart failure as such; we all like to call it an inefficient heart because that’s what it is. Sufferers and their families are at the heart of what we do. All the information we produce, just like this booklet, is developed by people who have an inefficient heart.

The Pumping Marvellous Foundation gives sufferers and their families HOPE.

HOPE that one day there will be a cure.

HOPE that they can manage their condition better.

HOPE people managing their heart failure get access to NICE guideline treatments and care.

HOPE that we can help you live better with heart failure.

Point 1 – So what is an inefficient heart?

The heart is a complicated muscle working via a series of electrical impulses and valves. Like a well-tuned motor, it only takes one of the many components to malfunction and the heart won’t work as efficiently as it should, just like a car’s engine. Like any muscle in the body, the heart must receive oxygen and nutrients to function properly. Reasons for an inefficient heart can be:

  • Coronary heart disease – like a heart attack or angina
  • Untreated long-standing hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • Cardiomyopathy (your heart muscle weakens)
  • Heart rhythm disturbance (like atrial fibrillation)
  • Damaged heart valves
  • Myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle may be caused by a virus)
  • Prolonged alcohol consumption
  • The use of recreational drugs
  • Chemotherapy treatment
  • Pregnancy

Whatever has caused your heart to be inefficient, your Cardiologist will suggest a series of tests and treatments. You may have a blood test, an ECG (Electrocardiogram, which looks at your heart’s electrical activity) and an echo (Echocardiogram, which is a scan that looks inside your heart). Some of the options your Clinician will discuss with you will be:

  • Lifestyle changes
  • Medications
  • Implantable devices
  • Certain types of heart surgery

Self-managing your inefficient heart is very important. In most cases, if you take your medication as prescribed by your healthcare team in conjunction with making lifestyle changes, this can help your heart work as efficiently as it can and help manage your symptoms.

Read the full guide

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