Heart failure

Heart failure, also known as congestive heart failure or congestive cardiac failure, is a complex clinical syndrome that occurs when the heart is unable to provide sufficient pump action to maintain blood flow to meet the needs of the body. It is is diagnosed by patient physical examination and confirmed with echocardiography.

Common causes of heart failure are: myocardial infarction (heart attack) and other forms of coronary artery disease, hypertension, valvular heart disease, and cardiomyopathy

Signs and symptoms are: 

  • Dyspnea (shortness of breath)
  • Coughing 
  • Tiredness
  • Peripheral edema, ascites, and hepatomegaly in a right-sided failure (due to a failure of the right ventricle)
  • Pulmonary edema and cyanosis in a left-sided failure (due to a failure of the left ventricle).

Treatment depends on the severity and cause of the heart failure. In a chronic patient already in a stable situation, treatment commonly consists of lifestyle measures such as smoking cessation, light exercise, dietary changes, and medications. Sometimes, depending on etiology, it is treated with implanted devices (pacemakers or ventricular assist devices) and occasionally a heart transplant is required.


Heartmate II LVAD implantation surgery narrated by Arie Blitz, MD

Ventricular assist device, or VAD, is a mechanical circulatory device that is used to partially or completely replace the function of a failing heart. Some VADs are intended for short term use, typically for patients recovering from heart attacks or heart surgery, while others are intended for long term use (months to years and in some cases for life), typically for patients suffering from congestive heart failure.

Medicalese101: CHF, JVD
  1.  nagisahaazukii said: I’m a second year and this post taught me what jvd and chf are (i just didn’t know it in shorthand)

This one’s for you, nagisahaazukii.

CHF (congestive heart failure): condition in which the heart does not contract or relax efficiently (or both), due to a stiff, floppy, or irregular ventricular wall. When the cardiovascular system is unable to compensate for the heart’s impairment, a patient can have a CHF exacerbation, in which pressure builds up in the vasculature behind the heart (the lungs and the peripheral veins) and fluid leaks out of the vessels. Clinical signs of a CHF exacerbation include lower extremity pitting edema (from all that leaky fluid), crackly sounds in the lungs and shortness of breath, again from fluid being where it doesn’t belong, and JVD, or jugular venous distention.

JVD is a measurable distention in the external jugular vein when the patient is sitting at about 45 degrees. It reflects increased pressure in the right atrium of the heart. 

"imagine my heart; filled with love. Given to you without hesitation"

I wrote this for my mom for Mother’s Day. Never in a million years would I have guessed that the very next day my mom would be in the hospital, diagnosed with congestive heart failure. Right now her hearts only working 25% and the quote above wasn’t just some sweet shit I said to make her happy, I meant it. Still do.
The Art Of The Sitcom Grandparent: Remembering Clarice Taylor


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Clarice Taylor died Monday at the age of 93 from congestive heart failure.

Taylor played Anna Huxtable, Cliff’s mother, on The Cosby Show, beginning in 1984. She and Earle Hyman, who played her husband Russell, put together quite possibly the fullest portrayal of grandparents that the half-hour sitcom has ever produced.

A life threatening pregnancy

The other day (ok, 5 minutes ago) I was on Facebook. Among the messages of happy children frolicking in snow, disappointed Seattle fans and people raving over Katy Perry I came across a post from an old friend from elementary school, Allison Stickel. I remember playing on the same softball team as Allison as kids. While she was definitely sassy, she was also very nice… and very fun!

A little more than 3 years ago, Allison gave birth to Grace Ann.  

She was 9 weeks early. She was 3 lbs, 10 oz and 15.5 inches long. Allison calls Grace her miracle baby.

When Grace was born, I had read all of these things… but I never knew why Grace Ann was a miracle. And at the time, it didn’t really matter, because here was this beautiful gift from God that an old friend was so excited to have.

But just the other day, I learned exactly how much of a miracle Grace Ann truly was. Grace was born 9 weeks premature because Allison’s heart could no longer handle the pregnancy. She is a miracle because Allison was told that carrying a child while having Pulmonary Hypertension could be fatal. Grace is a miracle, and so is Allison. They survived.

How brave. I think you could ask any mother and hands down they would tell you they would give their life for their child. But what if you survived, and yet you knew your time together may be brief?  You would know that every single moment with that child was precious. And you would want as many of those moments as possible.  My heart breaks even thinking of that scenario with my own children. 

That is what is happening to Allison. Allison has an amazing heart.  To give back, she runs her own charity: Precious Preemies, Newborns and Angels… (you can find them on Facebook) supplying clothes to families with preemies. Tiny clothes that are hard to come buy, and are very expensive. Hospital bills are expensive enough! Allison wanted to give families some relief. 

But it’s that same heart that may fail her once again.

This is Grace Ann today. A vibrant 3 year old who LOVES her mommy. She NEEDS her mommy. 

In June of 2014 Allison’s doctors decided she needed to have heart surgery… surgery that could potentially save her life.  But unforeseen complications cancelled and rescheduled surgery multiple times and her heart sustained structural damage that cannot be reversed. Her procedure would no longer be life saving.

Tomorrow, Allison goes in for the surgery anyway. She hopes it will at least buy her more time. Time to find alternative treatments. Time to complete her bucket list. Time to spend with her miracle, Grace Ann. 

A gofundme site has been set up for Allison and her family to help with medical bills, financial responsibilities that come with the cost of raising a child, and just everyday life… because Allison needs a break while she’s fighting this.

I started this blog to help women, who were in a high risk pregnancy feel like they weren’t alone. Many of you have written to me, sharing your own experiences, creating a wonderful community. It’s time to help one of our own. Allison deserves to be able to enjoy every moment with her daughter, and not have to worry about hospital bills or just getting by. 

If everyone subscribing to this blog just gave $5, it would make a HUGE difference. It might not be life saving, but it certainly would be life changing, and I know if I were her, I would be forever grateful.

As always, thank you for reading… and THANK YOU for considering helping out an old friend.
Change of Heart Fund

Funding for Change of Heart Fund

At 29 years old, Greg Tharp is waiting for a new heart & another chance at living.

Back Story; In June 2012 Greg thought he had a nasty cold, it turned out to be Congestive Heart Failure… they discovered his heart is broken. To simplify, Greg’s heart is not capable of pumping the required amount of blood necessary to keep his lungs and organs functioning properly. So after many stays at the hospital, more in than out lately - he has an implanted defibrillator, intravenious meds carries 24/7, and 2 close calls of receiving that new heart he still waits at the top of the priority list. This means that at anytime he can get the call… let’s show him how much we care, that he is not alone & that whatever it takes HE CAN DO THIS!! After the operation he will require major re-habilitation (and prayers), it will require that his mom Martha Tharp be by his side to learn how to expect the unexpected as his caregiver. They will be in Gainesville for weeks and possibly months.   

Hopes for the "Funding"; Greg has not been able to work in over 2 years, his medical & travel expenses are adding up and he has a wish to travel to Japan after he conquers this beast! Wouldn’t it be wonderful to get him through this awful experience with a healthy & strong heart, with minimal dept and the trip of his dreams waiting for him??

Closing; I am proud of how Greg, Martha and the family has rallied behind this… honor your disease, do what the docs tell you, say your prayers and by the grace of God & your circle of support Greg will be working on those cars and catching those snook again soon! Come on folks - lets show him that there is a light at the end of this tunnel!

Now for my own prayer:  I look up to this man like an older brother. He really truly is one of the nicest people I’ve ever met. Anyone lucky enough to have met him already, knows this. He isn’t one to ask for help. In fact, he’s kind of stubborn. He’s a brilliant guy and has many bright things in store for his future. He went up for his transplant one day but the Donor of the heart’s corpse broke out into a rash, which is not a good sign. Its almost a miracle in itself that they had not already transplanted the heart. But please hear me out, anything you can donate. even the smallest amount, hell, even just reblog this so we can raise awareness would be magnificent. This man has a lot of people who love him and we’re all backing him 100% but we could always use more help. Thank you.

My worlds have officially collided. While watching “The Ballad of Jack and Rose”, I couldn’t help but merge Jack’s symptoms into my Congestive Heart Failure case study. I found myself more focused on Jack’s bargaining and anticipatory loss over the creepy Oedipal complex he had with his daughter. His diaphoresis and weakness were characteristic of his disease process.
Although he seemed to have been managing his symptoms for a while, the end of the film brings about the typical symptoms of orthopnea, wheezes, and decreased tissue perfusion.
Nursing school has made it almost impossible to un-see these things, and I couldn’t be happier.

Go Fund My Dog

Hey all, 

I recently started a go fund me page for my dog. He was diagnosed with congestive heart failure and the medicine is very expensive. 

This dog has been in my family for over ten years. I grew up with him. And it really pains me to see him this way. But he’s been trucking it out since his diagnoses over a year ago. I’m proud of him. 

My campaign is to help get him some special dog food for senior dogs, one that is primarily meat, rice, and sweet potatoes. We were told by our vet that top quality food for senior dogs is really what we want to feed him. The problem is that the food is expensive! We’ve also been needing to get some other supplies, such as potty pads, a few new toys, some treats, and a new bed. His medicine makes it hard for him to hold his bladder, so potty pads indoors have been a life saver for us. He’s also soiled his bed one too many times and we need a new one. 

If you are interested in helping us and our old dog, CHECK HERE for the details on donating. 

Thank you so much for reading. I really appreciate it. I love this dog with all my heart.