Despite the negative sound of the phrase, heart failure doesn’t necessary mean that your heart has stopped working. It does signify there is trouble with the pumping action. Heart failure may be caused by coronary artery disease, hypertension (high blood pressure), or even diabetes.

Heart disease is a very common condition, afflicting more than five million Americans. In some instances, the heart is too weak to pump sufficient blood to the lungs where it can be oxygenated; in other cases, left-side heart failure means that the heart isn’t able to pump enough oxygenated blood to the rest of the body.

In either case, the result may be shortness of breath, difficulty in breathing, fatigue, or swelling in the ankles, feet, abdomen and veins in the neck. These symptoms mean that fluid is building up in your body. Other signs are weight gain, a frequent need to urinate, or a cough that is worse when you are lying down.

If you have any of these symptoms, you could be at risk for heart failure. In our Miami clinic, we use our medical skills and tools to diagnose heart problems.

Dr. Diego may ask about your family and medical histories. He will perform a physical exam, listening to your heartbeat and your lungs; checking for swelling in the ankles, feet, legs, abdomen and the veins in your neck.

Dr. Diego may also order an Electrocardiogram (EKG). This is a painless test that records the electrical activity of the heart. The doctor may also want to have chest x-rays taken, to see if your heart is enlarged or you have fluid build-up in your lungs. Coronary Angiography is another weapon. This diagnostic technique involves the injection of a dye to allow the doctor to see how blood is flowing to your heart muscle. A stress test will monitor your heart’s performance while you walk or run on a treadmill or pedal a stationary bicycle. Other tests include blood work, echocardiography (sound waves that create a moving picture of your heart), or ultrasound. Or you may be asked to wear a Holter monitor, which reveals your heart rate during your everyday activities.

If the diagnosis is positive (that is, you are found to have heart failure), there are four basic stages of treatment:

  • First, we treat the underlying cause, such as coronary artery disease, high blood pressure, or diabetes
  • Second, we work to reduce symptoms that may be causing discomfort
  • Third, we try to ensure that the problem will not worsen
  • Fourth, we make long-term changes to improve your quality of life and increase your longevity

A whole science has been built around managing heart disease via diet and exercise, which our staff will share with you. There are also medications that can help. Other patients may be candidates for Angioplasty, a Defibrillator, or Surgery.

The first priority is to receive a sound diagnosis and put yourself under the care of a skilled cardiologist. Call our Miami clinic to schedule an evaluation today. Don’t wait. It’s your heart that’s at stake.