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The following article was published in Your Health Magazine. Our mission is to empower people to live healthier.
Genevieve Lightfoot-Taylor, MSN, CFNP, ACHPN
Living With Heart Failure
Hospice of the Chesapeake & Chesapeake Supportive Care
. https://www.hospicechesapeake.org/

Living With Heart Failure

<strong>Living With Heart Failure</strong>

How Supportive Care Helps

The diagnosis of congestive heart failure (CHF) can be scary the first time a person hears it. The word “failure” is alarming, but it doesn’t mean the heart has stopped working. CHF is a progressive condition where the heart’s muscle can’t pump enough blood to meet the needs of vital organs. It is a serious, terminal disease, with an average life expectancy of five years. But we can extend those years and improve quality of life by managing the condition through medicine and lifestyle changes. Supportive care professionals can be that management team.

When diagnosed with CHF, we recommend you have supportive care, also known as palliative care, involved in your care. Supportive care professionals work with your specialists to help manage symptoms that come with heart failure. Symptoms like pain, shortness of breath, fluid retention, fatigue, anxiety, depression and more.

Supportive care also helps you and your family with difficult decisions throughout your journey with CHF. Together, you can prepare an advance directive that informs your medical team and family how you would like to live out your life. Having a detailed plan in place can ensure that if you don’t want dialysis should your kidneys fail, that decision is honored. Or, if you’re okay with dialysis, that decision is honored, too. The same goes with many important medical decisions – from invasive procedures to whether you want to be resuscitated or provided life support.

Supportive care is not hospice care which means you can still seek curative treatment. You can continue with all the medications and treatments you want, while simultaneously considering what you want when the time comes for the end-of-life care that hospice provides. It makes sense to have a plan in place with your family and caregivers.

If you are one of the six million Americans ages 20 and older living with CHF, supportive care can provide a much needed addition to your care plan. Our care focuses on the patient’s wishes. The minute you’re diagnosed with CHF is the right time to ask your cardiologist for a referral to supportive care. You will still be working with your cardiologist, and so will we. We are part of the team of experts working together to give you the best care possible while you are living with illness.

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