Congestive Heart Failure (CHF)

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What Is Congestive Heart Failure?

Congestive heart failure (CHF) is often used to refer to heart failure. But since heart failure doesn’t always have symptoms such as congestion — fluid retention — the term “heart failure” is used to refer to the broad condition when your heart muscle doesn’t pump blood as well as it should.

Congestive heart failure results from blood backing up in the veins as the heart struggles to pump blood out to the body. The backup causes congestion in body’s tissues, leading to swelling (edema) typically in the legs and ankles.

Fluid can collect in the lungs (pulmonary edema) and cause shortness of breath, especially when lying down.

More patients with congestive heart failure and other heart conditions entrust their care to Norton Heart & Vascular Institute than any other provider in the Louisville and Southern Indiana area. Our board-certified and fellowship-trained cardiologists and other specialists in the Advanced Heart Failure and Recovery Program are at the leading edge of advanced treatments for congestive heart failure.

Congestive Heart Failure Symptoms

Symptoms vary, but often include:

  • Swelling, often in the legs and ankles
  • Shortness of breath — especially when lying down
  • Fatigue
  • Reduced exercise capacity

Congestive Heart Failure Treatment

The experienced specialists at the Advanced Heart Failure and Recovery Program have the expertise and leading-edge treatments to control your congestive heart failure symptoms and slow progress of the disease.

We work with you to develop a customized treatment plan that fits your condition and goals.

We start by working with you on dietary changes and other lifestyle adjustments such as physical activity, stress reduction, and reduction of alcohol and other drugs. We often have success with lifestyle changes in conjunction with medication.

Implanted devices such as a pacemaker or cardioverter-defibrillator (either implanted or wearable) can control abnormal heart rhythms such as arrhythmia. Your Advanced Heart Failure and Recovery Program provider may use a sophisticated device to remotely monitor your blood flow daily for subtle changes that can signal a worsening condition.

Targeting the cause of your congestive heart failure may involve minimally invasive procedures such as ablations that carefully destroy small parts of diseased heart to restore blood flow or interrupt abnormal heart rhythms.

If your congestive heart failure is complicated by thickened muscle between the two ventricles, surgery may be needed to remove part of the muscle to improve blood flow through the heart.

Our surgeons have experience and sophisticated training with ventricular assist devices if necessary as either a long-term solution or a short-term bridge to a heart transplant.

Heart and Vascular Care for the Whole Person

Norton Heart & Vascular Institute offers patient resources to support you and your family, including free classes for people of all ages who are seeking to improve cardiovascular health or living with a heart condition.

Cardiac Rehabilitation Program

Our cardiac rehabilitation providers are leaders in developing and applying innovative techniques that can help you recover and resume your life.

Connecting Hearts Support Group

The group provides education and support to individuals who have had a heart attack, are living with a heart condition or are at risk for cardiovascular disease.

Heart Health Screenings

Prevention is the best way to manage heart disease, and screenings are available to detect early signs of cardiac and vascular disease and identify risk factors.

About Norton Heart & Vascular Institute

Every year, more than 137,000 people in Louisville and Southern Indiana choose Norton Heart & Vascular Institute specialists for their heart and vascular care. That’s more than any other health care provider.

  • Norton Healthcare’s adult-service hospitals in Louisville all have received Chest Pain Center accreditation from the American College of Cardiology (ACC). This is the seventh consecutive accreditation for all four hospitals, which ensures quality for the treatment of heart attack.
  • Norton Audubon Hospital, Norton Brownsboro Hospital and Norton Hospital all are recognized as having ACC Chest Pain Center with Primary PCI accreditation.
  • Norton Healthcare has the most facilities across the city of Louisville with the ability treat a life-threatening heart attack.
  • You have access to more than 100 physicians and advanced practice providers with specialized training and experience in a comprehensive range of conditions and treatments.
  • Patients can make appointments at 28 locations in Louisville and Southern Indiana. Telecardiology is offered at more than 30 sites in the region.
  • Norton Audubon Hospital, a key location for Norton Heart & Vascular Institute services, has been recognized with a HeartCare Center National Distinction of Excellence year after year by the American College of Cardiology. This is the only hospital in Louisville to be recognized for this distinction.
  • U.S. News & World Report 2023-24 Best Hospitals ranked Norton Healthcare’s adult-service hospitals in Louisville as high performing in heart attack, heart failure, aortic valve surgery and heart bypass surgery.
  • Norton Audubon Hospital earned ventricular assist device (VAD) accreditation from DNV – Healthcare and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.
  • Communicate with your health care provider, renew prescriptions, get lab results and more through your free Norton MyChart account.

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