The heart pumps blood around in the body and is thus the most important muscle in the body.
The heart consists of two halves that each consists of an atrium and a ventricle. The left ventricle pumps blood out into the entire body through arteries. When the blood has provided oxygen to the cells in the body, the blood will then run back to the right half of the heart through the veins. From there the blood will be pumped into the lungs for oxygenation.
The heart valves control the bloodstream through the heart and direct the bloodstream the right way around the body.
The coronary artieries, which are on the outside of the heart, provide blood for the heart.
The pumping efficiency of the heart is controlled by the electrical system of the heart and start in the right atrium. The heart contracts when the electric impulses strike the heart muscle cells, and a pulse beat has begun. The electric impulses are then sent down through the heart into the ventricles, and from there the blood is pressed out into circulation. The contraction of the heart thus happens in two stages.
A life with heart failure means making small changes in everyday life but for the vast most majority it also means having more energy in everyday life when receiving treatment. You can make many of these small changes yourself, when diagnosed with heart failure.
The most important changes to make are:
Many experience having a decreased appetite but the body may have an increased need for protein and calories. You should eat healthy and nourishing food to avoid using up the proteins in your muscles.
Many experience an increased thirst but, because of the reduced pumping efficiency of your heart, your body cannot metabolize a great intake of fluids. It is recommended that you reduce the daily intake of fluids.
Both physical and mental fatigue, accumulation of fluids in the body and shortness of breath are the most common symptoms of heart failure. It is not uncommon to experience sleep problems since it can be difficult to breathe when lying down. It can indicate that your condition has deteriorated if you have to sit upright when you sleep - it is important to react on this!
It is important that you take part in your treatment, e.g. take your medicine as prescribed and monitor your weight by weighing yourself at least 2 times a week on the same scales. Please contact the clinic, if you gain weight. It is vital to pay attention to the signals your body is sending you and react to new or deteriorating symptoms.
It may help to share your thoughts and feelings with others. Do not lose courage because you have heart failure - you can live for a long time with a heart that has reduced pumping efficiency, if you take good care of it.
As a patient recently diagnosed with heart failure, you will be offered regular consultations in our Heart Failure Clinic, to ensure you the best possible treatment. The treatment is planned individually to fit your needs, and it is up to you for how long you require consultations in the clinic. Each consultation includes measurements of blood pressure, pulse and weight, and we discuss the symptoms you experience and how the medicine affects you. In addition, your blood samples will be monitored frequently and often closer to your visit, so you will get your results at the consultation.
The Clinic is staffed by cardiac nurses, who work closely with consultants in cardiology. You will see the same nurse at every consultation.
You can be diagnosed with heart failure after an ultrasound examination of your heart (echocardiography), which is then backed up by other relevant tests. The pumping efficiency of the heart is measured in EF (ejection fraction), stated in percentages and a term for the amount of blood that is pumped out into circulation at every pulse beat from the left ventricle. A healthy and fully functioning heart has an EF of 60%. Heart failure is diagnosed at an EF of < 45%.
The medicine will be adjusted to your condition and your general health continuously. The medicine will relieve your heart and slow the development of heart failure. The treatment increases the quality of life and prolongs life.
Side effects may occur, but the alternative - that you do not take your medicine - is worse. Your body will slowly get used to the medicine, which is why the medicine is continuously adjusted and increased gradually. It is important that you do not stop taking the medicine abruptly.
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