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Heart failure

Heart failure is an indication that the heart is no longer working at its full potential. The heart is unable to pump blood as well as normal, which prevents the heart from receiving all the blood and oxygen it requires. Lifestyle changes and medication are popular treatment plans to combat heart failure.

HCAH_Specialty_Cardiology_HeartFailure

Congestive heart failure treatment in Largo, Florida

If you have been diagnosed with heart failure, we’re here to help you understand there is hope. In fact, many people with heart failure lead full, enjoyable lives.

With the support of our dedicated team at the Largo Advanced Heart Failure Center at HCA Florida Largo Hospital, you can do the same. Because even your heart muscle may not be pumping blood as well as it should, and even though this is frightening, heart failure does not mean your heart has stopped working. We can educate you about how your condition is actually impacting your body and then, together, we’ll develop a personalized treatment plan for you.

Our heart failure services and treatments

Our multidisciplinary team approach allows us to develop a comprehensive treatment plan tailored to fit you and your specific condition. This means you may also have special consultations with members from our nutrition, pharmacy, social work and palliative care services.

Heart failure evaluations and diagnostic testing

Depending on the stage of your condition, the evaluations and heart screening and imaging you undergo may involve anything from blood work to X-rays. Other tests and imaging include:

  • Cardiac catheterization
  • Computerized tomography (CT) scan of the heart
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan of the heart
  • Nuclear medicine scan of the heart, also called a nuclear stress test
  • Ultrasound of the heart (echocardiography)

Medication management

A cardiologist will review your medical history, speak with your other physicians and prescribe medications to help control your heart failure. The correct medications can help you live more comfortably.

Implantation of ventricular assist devices (VADs)

A VAD is a mechanical device which pumps blood through the body when the heart is too weak to pump blood adequately on its own. It helps the heart pump blood but doesn't replace the heart.

We specialize in left ventricular assist device (LVAD) implantation, and we were the first facility in Pinellas County to successfully implant one. The type of LVAD used at our hospital is a continuous flow, implantable pump.

An LVAD is surgically attached to the left ventricle and to the aorta, the main artery that carries oxygenated blood from the left ventricle to the entire body. The device is an external system including a small controller and two batteries attached by an external tube, which passes through the skin. You can wear this system under or on top of your clothing.

Becoming an approved LVAD candidate

If you have advanced heart failure and all other medical therapies have been unsuccessful, you may be a candidate to receive an LVAD. Compared to using only medication management, these devices can help you live longer and enjoy an improved quality of life.

Not everyone with advanced heart failure is a good candidate for this treatment. Our Mechanical Circulatory Support Program will determine if you are a candidate for this therapy after an evaluation process, which includes diagnostic tests.

Additionally, a team of nurses, physicians, social workers, palliative care specialists, nutritionists and financial advisors will meet about your care. They will review the results of your tests and determine if you meet the criteria for this therapy.

Purposes of an LVAD

There are three main purposes LVADs serve:

  • As a bridge to recovery, when you are experiencing the type of heart failure (such as viral infections or postpartum heart disease) that may reverse itself with temporary support
  • As a bridge to transplant, when you need temporary support until a donor heart becomes available
  • As destination therapy, when you need long-term therapy and heart transplantation is not an option

Heart transplantation

Our hospital is the first hospital in Pinellas County to offer heart transplantation services. Once all medications and therapies have been exhausted, this procedure may be necessary to treat advanced heart failure. As a cardiology and heart transplant leader, you will receive elite, compassionate care as you embark on the path for a heart transplant with us.

Advanced heart failure care

At our Advanced Certified Heart Failure Center, we are dedicated to excellence in heart care. Our facility has achieved the Gold Seal of Approval from The Joint Commission, the leading healthcare accrediting agency in the U.S. This recognition means our hospital is a pillar of safety and quality, able to meet the rigorous quality standards set by The Joint Commission.

We have also been recognized for meeting the national standards of the American Heart Association's Get With The Guidelines — Heart Failure quality improvement program, which results in lower readmission rates.

Additionally, we are the first hospital in Pinellas County credentialed by Det Norske Veritas Healthcare, Inc. and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services for VAD implantation.

Understanding heart failure

Heart failure is a weakening of the heart that can develop over a long period of time. It doesn't mean your heart has stopped or is about to stop. 

What happens during heart failure: 

Heart failure begins when your heart can't pump enough nutrient-rich blood to meet your body's needs. When this happens, your muscles weaken and begin to waste away, causing fatigue. The lack of adequate blood flow will also cause your organs to progressively fail if left untreated, resulting in numerous medical complications.

When the heart cannot pump enough oxygen and nutrients to meet the body’s needs, it tries to adapt. The chambers of the heart stretch to hold more blood to pump throughout the body with each heartbeat.

The body releases hormones to increase the heart's pumping power, but these hormones can only provide temporary relief. Over time, the heart muscle walls will continue to weaken and/or stiffen if heart failure goes untreated.


Signs of heart failure

A heart attack is not the same as heart failure, although it can lead to heart failure. Similarly, the symptoms of heart failure differ slightly from heart attack symptoms and may include:

  • Confusion or impaired thinking
  • Coughing and wheezing
  • Fatigue
  • Increased heart rate
  • Increased thirst
  • Lack of appetite
  • Nausea
  • Shortness of breath, especially when lying down
  • Sudden weight gain of two to three pounds in one day or five pounds in a week
  • Swelling in the feet, ankles and legs

Types of heart failure

The types of heart failure include:

  • Systolic left ventricular dysfunction (or systolic heart failure) occurs when the left ventricle, the chamber of the heart that pumps blood out of the heart and into the body, doesn’t contract with enough force, so less oxygen-rich blood is pumped throughout the body.
  • Heart failure with preserved left ventricular function (diastolic heart failure) occurs when the heart contracts normally, but the ventricles do not relax properly or are stiff. This causes less blood to enter the heart during normal filling.

Patient Testimonials - Largo Hospital Heart Failure Patient Greg Pruitt Gets an LVAD

Hear why Largo Hospital's first LVAD patient, Greg Pruitt, says, "I wouldn't be alive if it wasn't for Largo Medical.
Greg Pruitt

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