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Know Your Heart: Symptoms of Heart Failure & Preventative Steps

Know Your Heart: Symptoms of Heart Failure & Preventative Steps

Heart failure is a silent epidemic impacting about 6.2 million adults in the U.S. It is responsible for more hospitalizations than all forms of cancer combined. Many people with heart failure don’t realize they have it.

The good news is with early diagnosis and management, your chances of further complications decrease. The Advanced Heart Failure team at Valley Health’s Heart & Vascular Center at Winchester Medical Center can help improve your quality of life!

What is Heart Failure?

Heart failure is a clinical syndrome, not a single disease. Despite its name, heart failure (or congestive heart failure) does not necessarily mean your heart is about to suddenly fail. It is a condition where the cardiac function fails to meet the metabolic demands of the body.

There are risk factors that can contribute to heart failure, including high blood pressure, diabetes, and obesity. Having a history of heart disease or damage to a heart valve can also contribute to heart failure.


  • Shortness of breath, which can happen from mild activity
  • Difficulty breathing when lying down
  • Waking up breathless in the middle of the night
  • Weight gain with swelling in the feet, legs, ankles, or stomach
  • Tiring easily
  • Feeling tired frequently
  • Dry, hacking cough when lying flat in bed


  • Eat a heart healthy low salt diet (less than 2 grams of sodium per day)
  • Follow recommended restrictions to fluids – typically 2 liters or 64 ounces per day
  • Get regular exercise
  • Weigh yourself daily and report increases in weight to your medical provider
  • Avoid smoking and alcohol
  • Take your medication(s) routinely as prescribed


  • Medications are available to relieve symptoms and to keep heart failure from getting worse.
  • For certain patients, a PA sensor may be an option. The PA sensor remotely measures and monitors pulmonary artery pressure and heart rate. A small sensor in the patient’s pulmonary artery transmits data wirelessly to their doctor. This information can be used to help manage the patient’s condition and reduce their risk for a heart failure-related hospitalization.
  • Device therapy, if indicated.

Our Advanced Heart Failure Center at Winchester Medical Center can provide resources to help patients, together with their primary care provider or cardiologist, manage heart failure. The multidisciplinary team consists of a fellowship-trained heart failure cardiologist, an experienced cardiology nurse practitioner, nurses, pharmacists, dieticians and other specialists.

Medical Director: Nikolas Krishna, MD

Clinical Coordinator: Marie Amico, FNP-C

Call the Advanced Heart Failure Center at (540) 536-4555 for more information.


Heart Failure Center website