Matters of the Heart

By: Nina Arnold, MPH, ACM-RN, CHWC
Manager, Care Management at SoNE HEALTH

February is heart health awareness month. When it comes to matters of the heart, the SoNE HEALTH population health management team gets to the heart of caring for patients with chronic heart conditions by focusing on prevention and management.

With the growing population of older adults, Congestive Heart Failure cases are increasing as well. Congestive Heart Failure sounds like a condition that may start suddenly, however heart failure is a long-term condition that may arise when other heart-related conditions are poorly managed.

Poor management of other-related heart conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure, and narrowed blood vessels from high cholesterol and fatty build-up can damage the heart and progress into Congestive Heart Failure.

With Congestive Heart Failure, the heart muscle loses its ability to pump blood effectively around the body leading to fluid build-up in the feet, ankles, legs, and around the stomach (abdomen).  Fluid can also leak into the lungs making people feel short of breath or cough. People feel tired and may not have the energy to enjoy daily activities.

Once diagnosed with Congestive Heart Failure, it is a condition people have for life. Congestive Heart Failure medications currently available have been shown to be very effective in helping the heart to keep blood pumping around the body completely so that fluid does not build up and people can breathe and move easily.

Keeping routine appointments with your primary care provider (PCP) and cardiologist is important.  During these visits your PCP and cardiologist can check that the medications you are taking are best in helping manage your heart failure, or other-heart related conditions.

Additionally, avoiding further stresses on the heart by not smoking, enjoying low sodium foods, going for regular walks, getting enough sleep, and managing overall stress can help people continue living a better quality of life.

This February, have a heart-to-heart with yourself on how to keep your heart healthy. Choose heart healthy foods, stay active, take your medications as prescribed, and make sure to have support from family and friends. As part of your health care team, your primary care provider is there to help you along the way.

References: American Heart Association