What is Heart Failure?

Heart failure is a condition where the heart does not pump as well as it should. The body is not able to get the oxygen and nutrients it needs from the blood. The heart cannot keep up with demand. Most people who develop heart failure had another heart condition first, such as coronary artery disease, high blood pressure or a heart attack. That’s why it is important to manage these conditions.

Symptoms of heart failure may include the following. Having one symptom may not mean you have heart failure, but if you have a combination of symptoms, talk to your provider about your concerns.

  • Fatigue – difficulty doing everyday activities like going up stairs or grocery shopping
  • Shortness of breath
  • Coughing or wheezing
  • Buildup of excess fluid in the body – swelling in the feet, ankles, legs or abdomen
  • Lack of appetite
  • Confusion
  • Increased heart rate – heart may feel like its racing or throbbing

How is heart failure diagnosed?

If you are experiencing a combination of the above symptoms, talk to your doctor about your concerns. When heart failure is suspected, there are many tests you may go through in order to diagnose if you have heart failure, what type and how severe it is.

Tests include:

  • Physical exam
  • Blood tests
  • Chest X-ray
  • Electrocardiogram (EKG or ECG)
  • Echocardiogram (abbreviated as "echo")
  • Exercise stress test
  • Cardiac catheterization
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)

How is heart failure treated?

Heart failure can be treated by managing symptoms, but it cannot be cured. You and your family will take an active role in making lifestyle changes that will be important in managing the disease.

Lifestyle changes include:

  • Quitting smoking
  • Eating a heart healthy diet
  • Exercise
  • Tracking daily fluid intake
  • Avoiding or limiting alcohol
  • Tracking symptoms and monitoring blood pressure

Treatments can include:

  • Medication
  • Devices and surgical procedures

It is important to manage any heart related condition. Guthrie Pulmonary Hypertension Clinic specializes in treating pulmonary hypertension, or high blood pressure in the heart and lungs. Our team of physicians and staff work with your primary care and specialty care providers to develop personalized and coordinated care just for you.

Heart Failure Care at Guthrie

  • Guthrie Heart Failure Program: A team of skilled physicians and advanced practice providers help you make lifestyle adjustments and create a care plan so you can live with heart failure.
  • Temple University Hospital Heart Failure Program Affiliate: Patients in need of advanced services, including ventricular assist devices (VAD) or transplants, may be referred to Temple for their procedure. Upon discharge from Temple, post-surgical transplant care will be coordinated between Guthrie and Temple specialists.
  • Guthrie Electrophysiology and Pacing offers a full range of services for conditions related to electrical activity of the heart providing evaluation, diagnosis and treatment for arrhythmias, atrial fibrillation (aFib), congestive heart failure (CHF), sudden cardiac arrest, syncope and ventricular arrhythmia.
  • Cardiac rehabilitation programs in four locations: Guthrie Healthworks in Corning; Guthrie Robert Packer Hospital; Guthrie Towanda Memorial Hospital; and Troy Community Hospital.
  • Guthrie Heart and Vascular Care Center, located in Guthrie Robert Packer Hospital, is a state-of-the-art space for heart and vascular surgeries and procedures. Located near the emergency department and ICU, there are private patient rooms, cardiac catheterization labs, and a hybrid operating room. The unit is centered around quick efficient care of our patients.

Guthrie heart surgeons are part of the largest cardiac care team in the northern Pa. and southern N.Y. Your heart is in good hands at Guthrie.

Guthrie interventional cardiology has advanced training in cardiac catheterization, performing ablation, stenting, angioplasty other structural heart procedures.

Our electrophysiology doctors and arrhythmia center teams help treat patients with arrhythmia issues like aFib using pacemakers or procedures like ablation.

Guthrie Cardiac and Vascular team treats patients with circulatory diseases: abdominal aortic aneurysm, carotid artery disease, and peripheral artery disease.