The Valley Approach to Heart Failure Care
Every person’s heart failure is different. To make sure we fully understand yours, your first appointment will last one to two hours. After a thorough examination and blood tests, we’ll create a treatment plan specifically for you.
Your plan may include lifestyle changes, medications or procedures that can:
- Improve your heart health
- Reduce fluid buildup
- Reduce fatigue and shortness of breath
- Increase mobility and stamina
We’ll check in regularly on your progress. This allows us to make adjustments to your plan as needed, so that your treatments are always working as they should. We also teach you to watch for signs and symptoms to report to your health care team, so that we can quickly make any needed changes to your care plan. This ensures you stay well and avoid possible hospitalization.
Comprehensive Treatment Options
There are many possible treatments for heart failure. We’ll take the time to explore each of your options with you.
Lifestyle Changes and Education
Some of the best ways to control your symptoms have nothing to do with medications or procedures:
- Education: We’ll teach you how to recognize warning signs and manage your own symptoms. Once you know the signs that heart failure is getting worse, you can make changes before symptoms get too serious. For example, you can eat less salt or take a diuretic medication to get rid of weight caused by fluid buildup.
- Cardiac rehabilitation: If you’ve been diagnosed with heart failure, there’s a good chance your insurance will cover cardiac rehab. Our team works closely with Valley’s cardiac rehab program, which is proven to improve heart health and ease symptoms. The program includes gentle, medically supervised exercise and help with other lifestyle changes.
- Nutrition and exercise planning: Lifestyle changes like exercising and eating different foods can relieve many heart failure symptoms. We know these changes can be challenging, especially if you find it hard to exercise. We’ll help you figure out exercise and diet changes that work for you in the long term.
Medications and Infusions
It’s important to take the right medications, in the right dose, at the right time. This helps you get the maximum benefit with a minimum of side effects. Our team has special expertise in determining just the right plan for you. It may include:
- Medications: Many medications can reduce the symptoms of heart failure. Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors and beta-blockers lower your blood pressure and lessen the strain on your heart. Diuretics help your body flush out excess fluid. This helps your heart work better and pump more efficiently.
- Infusions: If you have a lot of fluid buildup, you may need an IV infusion of diuretics. Valley is one of the few places to offer these infusions in the office, without requiring a hospital stay. Our team also offers iron infusions to help with anemia (low iron), which is common in people with heart failure.
- Clinical trials: We regularly offer clinical trials of new heart failure therapies. This gives you access to options that are not yet widely available.
Devices and Procedures
Sometimes medications aren’t enough to ease all the symptoms of heart failure. Our heart failure team works closely with electrophysiologists at Valley to offer devices and procedures than can offer more relief:
- Arrhythmia care: If an arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat) is one of the causes or symptoms of your heart failure, treating the arrhythmia can help. Treatment of arrhythmias may include medications or procedures such as catheter ablation (also called cardiac ablation).
- Cardiac resynchronization therapy (CRT): If your heart isn’t pumping well enough, a small, implanted device may improve its function by “resynchronizing” it.
- Cardiac contractility modulation (CCM): Valley was the first hospital in Bergen County to offer this tiny device, which doctors implant under your skin. It uses electrical pulses to increase your heart’s ability to forcefully pump blood to the rest of your body.
- Implantable cardiac defibrillator (ICD): If you have an ejection fraction under 35%, there’s a risk your heart will suddenly stop working. An implantable cardiac defibrillator is a small device that reduces this risk. (Your ejection fraction is the percentage of blood your heart’s left ventricle pumps out with each beat. It should be at least 50%.)
Referrals and Collaboration With Your Other Providers
Valley doesn’t offer heart transplants or surgeries to implant left ventricular assist devices (LVADs). But we can still manage your care if you need either of these procedures:
- Left ventricular assist device (LVAD) referral and follow-up care: An LVAD is a pump surgically implanted in your heart to help it work better. Most people with heart failure don’t need them. If you do, we can help you find a trusted LVAD surgeon who takes your insurance. We can also offer follow-up care in collaboration with the hospital that provided you with the device
- Heart transplant referral and follow-up care: Most people with heart failure don’t need heart transplants. If you do, we’ll help you find a trusted surgeon who takes your insurance. We can also care for you after your transplant.
Care Where and When You Need It
Our goal is to keep you feeling good — and out of the hospital. At the same time, we know it’s not always easy to make it to appointments. So we offer unique services that make it easier to get the care you need:
- Remote monitoring (CardioMEMS): We offer CardioMEMS, an implantable monitor that tracks the pressure inside your heart and lungs. The monitor sends your information to Valley nurses, so they can check in if there is any problem.
- Check-ins at home: Our heart failure team works closely with Valley’s mobile health unit. The unit is a group of nurses and paramedics who can come to your home if you need help managing heart failure symptoms.
- Rides to and from your appointment: The Valley Van offers rides to and from Valley Health System services. You can use the service if you can’t drive or take public transit, and you live within 30 minutes of your destination.
- Outpatient infusions: As part of your care, you may need an infusion of diuretics (drugs that flush out the fluids). Valley offers these infusions in the office, so you don’t have to stay in the hospital to have one. We’re one of only a few hospitals to do this.
All of these services are for non-emergencies only. In an emergency, call 911.
Why Choose Valley for Heart Failure Care?
- The right treatments at the right time: Heart failure medications should be slowly increased for the first few months you’re on them. Research has shown that they aren’t increased enough for most patients in the United States. But we constantly monitor how you’re responding to medications so that you get just the right amount.
- Screening and care for amyloid cardiomyopathy and hypertrophic cardiomyopathy: Amyloid cardiomyopathy, also called cardiac amyloidosis, results from the buildup of abnormal proteins in your heart. Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is a thickening of your heart muscle. Symptoms of both conditions are similar to other types of heart failure, but they require different treatments. If there’s a chance you may have one of these conditions, we’ll do tests to confirm your diagnosis so that you get the care you need.
- Control over your own health: We teach you how to monitor symptoms, adjust your medications and make healthy lifestyle changes. Our goal is to make sure you have control over your heart failure symptoms.
- Lower chance of going back to the hospital: Compared with the national average, patients in Valley’s heart failure program have a lower chance of being readmitted to the hospital for symptoms of heart failure.