In addition to medications, Michele altered her lifestyle to manage her condition by walking more often and reducing her salt intake.
During American Heart Month and Black History Month, we wanted to explain what heart failure is, the signs, and what to do about it.
We sat down with heart failure patient, Michele and the Director of the Heart Failure Disease Management Program at TriStar Centennial Medical Center in Nashville, TN, Beth Towery Davidson, to discuss real-life symptoms, practices, and the outcomes of this condition:
Diagnosed with Heart Failure
BlackDoctor.org (BDO): When were you diagnosed with heart failure, and what were your symptoms?
Michele N. (MN): I was diagnosed about 2 and a half years ago. The first thing I noticed walking from work across the street to the parking lot is that I had to stop several times just to catch my breath. I was having labored breathing. Then, I had swelling in my feet, ankles and in my calves. I also had chronic fatigue. So, I knew that something was wrong so I made an appointment with my family doctor.
I actually thought it was allergies or asthma. I had to go back 2 or 3 times before she recommended that I go see a cardiologist. After I made the appointment with the cardiologist, he ran some tests on me to find out that I did indeed have heart failure.
BDO: Before you were diagnosed did you know much about heart failure and the signs to look out for?
MN: I did. My mother had passed away in 2004 from heart failure complications and I know that she suffered from labored breathing and swelling. She actually had a lot more swelling around her heart which meant that she had to go into a hospital several times in order to get that fluid extracted from around her heart. So, I knew a little bit about it.