Proper Identification and Treatment of Heart Failure Dramatically Impacts Patient Quality of Life

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (Feb. 10, 2014) — Heart failure impacts more than five million people in the United States and is the number one reason adults over the age of 65 are admitted to the hospital.  Its symptoms can be subtle; shortness of breath, fatigue, dizziness, and swelling in the legs or stomach. Properly identifying and treating heart failure can have a dramatic impact on a patient’s quality of life.

Heart failure occurs when the heart is unable to efficiently move blood to the rest of the body, either due to thickening or weakness. 

“The onset of heart failure can come from a variety of causes, including heart attack, abnormal heart valves, viral illness, genetic tendencies and pregnancy,” said Bethany Austin, M.D., Associate Medical Director of the Heart Failure Program at Saint Luke’s Mid America Heart Institute.

February 9-15, 2014 is National Heart Failure Awareness Week.  Saint Luke’s Mid America Heart Institute, in Kansas City, Missouri specializes in treating heart failure and other complex cardiovascular conditions and has long been the leader in cardiovascular care not only in the Midwest, but across the country. 

“Just as heart disease can manifest from a variety of causes, there are multiple treatments for heart failure depending on the individual patient’s situation,” said Dr. Austin.  “It is critical to seek treatment from clinicians who are heart failure experts and can not only properly identify the cause  but also the most appropriate treatment, whether it be medication, a defibrillator, or surgery.  At Saint Luke’s our cardiologists excel at identifying the right course of treatment for the right patient at the right time.”

Offering a multidisciplinary team, including the region’s only team of cardiologists board certified in Advanced Heart Failure and Cardiac Transplant, cardiothoracic surgeons, and critical care anesthesiologists, Saint Luke’s provides the full range of treatment options for patients with heart failure, including those who do not do well with traditional medical therapy.

While heart disease is a chronic condition, Dr. Austin says there are many things patients can do to proactively impact their illness in addition to medical treatment; including watching their salt intake, monitoring themselves on a daily basis for fluid build-up, staying active, and taking their medications regularly.

Saint Luke’s Mid America Heart Institute offers a dedicated heart failure clinic with a full spectrum of treatment from initial medical therapy to the region’s only transplant and LVAD program. The 30-day mortality rates for both heart failure and heart attack at Saint Luke’s Hospital were lower than the national average and lower than the same rates at both Cleveland Clinic and Mayo Clinic. In the area of heart failure, Saint Luke’s Hospital scored 9.2 percent with Cleveland and Mayo scoring 9.7 and 10.6 percent respectively. 

About Saint Luke’s Mid America Heart Institute
Saint Luke’s Mid America Heart Institute, a member of Saint Luke’s Health System and a teaching affiliate of the University of Missouri-Kansas City, is one of the preeminent cardiovascular programs in the country. Its legacy of innovation began more than 25 years ago when it opened as the nation’s first heart hospital. Since then, the Heart Institute has earned a world-wide reputation for excellence in the treatment of heart disease, including interventional cardiology, cardiovascular surgery, imaging, heart failure, transplant, heart disease prevention, women’s heart disease, electrophysiology, outcomes research, and health economics. With more than 50 full-time board certified cardiovascular specialists on staff, the Heart Institute offers one of the largest heart failure/heart transplant programs in the country, has the largest experience with transcatheter aortic valve replacement in the Midwest, and is a global teaching site for the newest approaches to opening challenging blocked arteries using minimally invasive techniques.