Heart failure is a serious cardiovascular condition, but the quality care provided by the Heart Failure Program at Torrance Memorial means our patients live longer, healthier and fuller lives.
Torrance Memorial's Heart Failure Program began in 2012 and since its inception, the program has adhered to rigorous, evidence-based guidelines and standards established by the American heart Association's Get with the Guidelines® (AHA/GTWG) program.
A Team Approach
At Torrance Memorial, we offer a comprehensive team approach. You and your family will join a team of skilled and dedicated staff including cardiologists, nurses, dietitians, pharmacists, and case managers that will help you every step of the way.
- We offer the most technologically advanced therapies
- We provide in-depth patient and family education including nutritional and fitness counseling
- Support groups are available to help patients and families deal with the emotional aspects of living with a chronic condition
- Advanced telephone monitoring allows assistance with home management
- A dedicated practitioner is available to provide assistance to you 24/7
What is Heart Failure?
Heart failure is condition that occurs when the heart has lost its ability to pump enough oxygen rich blood to the body's tissues. It is also known as congestive heart failure or CHF. There are many causes of heart failure including:
After a careful medical history has been taken and a physical examination has been completed, there may be several tests your provider may order to help determine if you have heart failure. These tests include:
Although heart failure is most often a chronic condition requiring lifelong management, in some cases it can be controlled by treating the underlying cause. The aim of treatment is to control symptoms, delay the progression of the disease, and help patients live a longer and happier life despite their condition.
Using Technology to Improve Treatment
Torrance Memorial's Heart Failure Program has implemented the CardioMEMS™ Heart Failure System to help patients manage their condition. Using a device that is implemented into the pulmonary artery, the system sends daily pulmonary pressure readings to Heart Failure Program staff. Based on the readings, staff members can communication with patients regarding their condition, provide self-care guidance, and help prevent hospital admissions.
Heart failure patients often need multiple medications to manage their condition and control their symptoms. They each work a little differently to make it easier for your heart to work. It is important that you understand what medications you are taking and why you are taking them. Types of medication can include:
Angiotensin Converting Enzyme (ACE) Inhibitors
These drugs widen blood vessels to lower blood pressure and decrease the workload on the heart
Angiotensin II Receptor Blockers (ARBs)
These drugs widen blood vessels to lower blood pressure and decrease workload on the heart. They can be used as an alternative when an ACE is not tolerated.
A diuretic that preserves potassium and has been shown to reduce hospitalization and prolong life when used to treat advanced heart failure
These drugs are also commonly known as "blood thinners". Some patients with heart failure have an irregular heart rhythm called atrial fibrillation. This irregular rhythm can lead to the formation of clots. These drugs prevent clots from forming and are given to prevent strokes.
These drugs lower your heart rate and lower your blood pressure to reduce the workload of the heart. They have been shown to reduce signs and symptoms of heart failure and improve heart function.
These drugs are also known as "water pills". They result in more frequent urination by removing excess fluid from the blood stream and body tissues. Patients taking diuretics may also lose potassium and may need to have a potassium supplement.
These drugs help improve blood flow to your heart by widening or dilating the arteries that supply the heart muscle.
Vasodilators may be used to improve blood flow by making the blood vessels in your heart and lungs wider.
Depending upon the cause and type of heart failure, there may be some surgical options available as treatment for heart failure.
- Coronary Artery Bypass Graft (CABG) Surgery: This surgery is also known as "open-heart surgery" or heart-bypass surgery. It is done to increase blood flow to the heart when there are blockages in the arteries that supply the heart muscle itself. This surgery can lower the risk of having a heart attack in the future.
- Heart Valve Surgery: Heart failure can be a result of a valve in the heart that is not functioning properly. Some patients may benefit from repairing or replacing the valve.
- Implantable Cardioverter-Defibrillators (ICDs): This is a small implantable device that monitors your heart rate and rhythm. It can function similar to a pacemaker and help speed the heart rate if it is too slow. If the device senses a dangerous rhythm or senses that the heart has stopped, it can provide a small electrical shock to help the heart start beating normally again.
- Cardiac Resynchronization Therapy (CRT): This is also called a biventricular pacemaker. Electrical impulses coordinate the lower chambers of the heart (right and left ventricles) to pump more efficiently. This device is usually combined with an ICD to function as one device.