This week, as heart health advocates and experts around the country kickoff National Heart Failure Awareness Week, I am reminded of how important it is to bring attention to the condition that affects 6.5 million Americans, including my Mom. Recognizing the symptoms of heart failure, a condition where the heart cannot pump enough blood around the body, and knowing when to talk with a doctor can have a huge impact on how well this disease is managed. Knowing which symptoms to look out for and understanding some of the small steps we can take, we may be able to better manage heart failure.
When my Mom was diagnosed with heart failure, we were shocked. We now realize that some of the things we chalked up to “old age” such as feeling tired or shortness of breath, were actually warning signs of heart failure. If you or a loved one are having a hard time walking up the stairs, having difficulty bending over to tie your shoes or having trouble breathing at night without propping yourself up with several pillows, it may be time to check in with your doctor. One great resource the American Heart Association has is an easy to follow symptom tracker (downloadable here
), which can help you identify your symptoms and know when it’s time to talk to your doctor.
When my Mom was diagnosed with heart failure we didn’t know where to start. One reminder that got us to where we are today is: Knowledge is power. Once we were able to recognize the symptoms Mom was experiencing, we felt that much more empowered to adjust her daily routine. Since then, I check in with my Mom every day to see how she’s doing, where her energy level is at, how she’s breathing and if anything feels “off.” We’ve learned how important it is to contact your doctor right away if there are certain changes such as swelling in her legs or feet or a sudden weight gain of more than 2-3 pounds in a day. My HF Guide
, is another great resource from the American Heart Association, which is an interactive guide that helps to show the small changes you can make in your daily routine, as well as some beneficial treatment options for heart failure.
Through our work with Rise Above Heart Failure
, a national multi-year educational initiative, created by the American Heart Association and nationally supported by Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation, we’ve learned that we’re not in this alone. With all of the helpful resources this initiative provides, not only do I feel empowered to help my Mom manage her condition, but I feel confident in spreading the word about heart failure. I encourage you to take some time during National Heart Failure Awareness Week to learn more about heart failure, check out tools and resources for managing the condition and share your personal experiences with heart failure on the American Heart Association’s Support Network
. Check out RiseAboveHF.org
to learn more, and share your story on social media using #RiseAboveHF!