One morning, five years ago, Robin woke up and could not get out of bed. Her fingers and toes were tingly and numb. Following a visit to the doctor, Robin learned that these symptoms were from lack of blood flow. She was diagnosed with heart failure.
Heart failure is a long-lasting condition in which the heart is unable to pump enough blood to meet the body’s needs for blood and oxygen. More than 6 million people in the U.S. are living with heart failure, and it is expected to impact nearly 8 million Americans by 2030. Each year alone, heart failure leads to about one million hospitalizations in the U.S.
Those who have faced a heart failure diagnosis know the experience can be overwhelming, particularly when the disease worsens over time and impacts people’s abilities to handle the day-to-day tasks they once could. People may also have to change their habits, which can be challenging. These changes include:
- eating differently
- remembering to take their medicines
- paying closer attention to their bodies and heart failure symptoms
- reducing stress
For some people, they find ways to navigate their condition with the determination to move forward after their diagnosis and incorporate a lifestyle that works for them.
“I didn’t know what was wrong with me as I had never felt that way before,” Robin recalled. “Now we know that it was my heart fluttering, instead of actually contracting and pumping.”
After hearing her diagnosis, Robin knew that working with her healthcare provider would be key to moving forward. For her that meant incorporating light exercise, a healthier diet, and tracking any new or worsening symptoms in consultation with her doctor.
At the Heart of the Matter: Moving Forward After Your Heart Failure Hospitalization is a program that supports people with chronic heart failure and their loved ones by offering educational information. Sponsored by Merck in collaboration with Mended Hearts®, the program was created to help people living with heart failure to better understand their condition and play a more proactive role in their care.
“You have bad days, but you have that inner strength to pull up your bootstraps and put one foot in front of the other to just do what you have to do to get through the next day. You have to remain positive and not let things get under your skin,” Robin remarked. “There’s a long list of things that patients can do on their own to help their doctor help them get better.”
For resources on living with chronic heart failure and to see more stories from patients like Robin, visit AtTheHeartOfTheMatter.com.