New Heart Failure Clinic At Augusta Health

Submitted by Dave Varma, MD, Augusta Health Cardiology

Congestive heart failure is a common clinical diagnosis that may occur because of various etiologies. There are more than 550,000 new cases per year and approximately 4.7 million symptomatic patients with heart failure live in the United States. In fact, there are more deaths that occur from heart failure than from all forms of cancer combined.

Patients with heart failure may often present with shortness of breath, peripheral edema and weight gain. Although congestive heart failure generally occurs because of a weak heart muscle with systolic dysfunction (HFrEF), hear failure may occur with preserved ejection fraction (HPpEF). Occasionally the congestive heart failure is due to coronary artery disease or valvular heart disease, which can readily be treated with surgery. In other cases, congestive heart failure may be due to a viral cardiomyopathy or other conditions which cannot be treated with stenting or bypass surgery. In these cases, medical therapy is our best approach.

Fortunately the last 20 years of advancements in cardiology have seen the development of new medications that can help patients with congestive heart failure. ACE inhibitors, angiotensin receptor blockers, beta blockers and aldosterone blockade have all been shown to decrease mortality in these patients. Advances in cardiac re-synchronization therapy in patients with bundle branch block and congestive heart failure may significantly help improve the quality of life. Newer drugs that have been introduced for the treatment of congestive heart failure include Entresto and Idvarabine.

Patients that are discharged from the hospital with congestive heart failure are frequently readmitted. Augusta Health Cardiology is pleased to announce the establishment of a congestive heart failure clinic to help decrease these readmission rates and improve the quality of life for patients who have congestive heart failure. Tammy Collins, NP, is a provider who has significant experience with congestive heart failure patients and is the director fo the heart failure clinic. In collaboration with Augusta Health Cardiologists, we hope to be able to offer the community a single resource for patients who have congestive heart failure. The clinic is meant to supplement the patient’s regular medical care rather than replace it.

In addition to titrating appropriate medications for heart failure, it is the goal of the clinic to help patients modify their lifestyle with a low-sodium, low-fat diet, losing weight, staying physically active, eliminating alcohol and caffeine, and quitting smoking. With proper follow-up, there lifestyle changes can help prevent heart failure exacerbations.

Patients can be referred to the Heart Failure clinic by calling the office at 540-245-7080. Providers in the hospital may contact a cardiologist through Vocera.