New center helps patients live well despite heart failure

In November, Sinai Hospital opened its new Heart Failure Center, part of the LifeBridge Health Cardiovascular Institute. The center’s mission is to help patients live longer, healthier lives following a heart failure (HF) diagnosis, and it is overseen by medical director and cardiologist Jonathan Safren, M.D.

“We’re here to help patients who are diagnosed with heart failure and might not know where to turn,” says Sandi Kuszewski, C.R.N.P., a nurse practitioner in the center. “We provide personalized education and encouragement to make lifestyle changes that can keep patients out of the hospital.”

Over 5 million Americans have HF, a serious medical condition that occurs when the heart cannot pump in a way that meets the body’s needs. HF is most often caused by underlying heart disease, though smoking, high blood pressure, obesity and diabetes can also lead to it. HF can affect people of any age – even children – but it is a condition that especially targets adults over age 65.

heart surgeryWhen the heart cannot pump blood well enough, a person might experience symptoms such as shortness of breath, bloating of the abdomen, and swelling of the feet and ankles. These symptoms occur because the weakened heart muscle causes the body to hold onto extra fluid. Besides causing these bothersome physical effects, HF can be life-threatening if it is not managed well.

While HF has no cure, the Heart Failure Center helps patients transition from leaving the hospital after a HF diagnosis to living better with this chronic condition. People with HF have a high likelihood of needing emergency medical care, especially soon after being hospitalized. The Heart Failure Center provides the tools HF patients need to avoid the emergency room and hospital. When patients adopt new healthful habits, they are not only more likely to stay out of the hospital, but they feel better too.

An appointment at the Heart Failure Center is like any other medical appointment. A nurse weighs patients and takes their blood pressure. Patients bring all of their medicine bottles with them so that the nurse can review exactly what they are taking. If medications need to be adjusted to better control a patient’s symptoms, the nurse practitioner does this in real time.

In addition, if HF patients’ symptoms become severe, they can come to the Heart Failure Center for urgent IV treatment to restore the body’s fluid balance. The experts at the Heart Failure Center also monitor patients’ lab results and work with their primary care and other providers to make sure all of their medical care is coordinated. Receiving coordinated care serves HF patients better.

The Heart Failure Center is located in Suite 52 of Sinai Hospital’s Hoffberger Building. For more information or to refer a patient to the Heart Failure Center, visit lifebridgehealth.org/heart or call 410-601-9405.

To schedule an appointment with one of our highly trained physicians and find out why LifeBridge Health is Baltimore's premier health care organization, call 410-601-WELL.

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