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Authored by Dr. Joseph Chavez Carey, Primary Care Physician of Garnet Health Doctors

What is Heart Failure?

Heart failure is a specific type of heart disease. The heart’s job is to be a pump – to pump blood throughout our bodies – and when it isn’t pumping as well as it should, we refer to that as heart failure. It is brought on by situations that cause damage the heart, like coronary artery disease and heart attack.

In 2016, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that 5.7 million adults in the United States were living with heart failure, and that approximately half of people who develop heart failure tend to die within five years of their diagnosis.

Despite these statistics and its terminal-sounding name, heart failure does not mean that the heart stops, such as in cases of cardiac arrest. Heart failure is a chronic condition where the heart is still doing its job, but not to its full capacity. In fact, heart failure is something that people can actually manage.

There are very effective medications these days, and with proper medical attention and a commitment to positive lifestyle changes, heart failure can be manageable.

Lifestyle Changes to Manage or Prevent Heart Failure

When we talk about lifestyle changes, we’re talking primarily about adjusting your diet and exercise particularly eating healthier and moving more.

With this information, along with other information like:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Blood pressure

Doctors can use what is called a Health Risk Calculator to assess a patient’s risk of having a heart attack. If a patient is categorized as high risk, then that can lead to discussion of cholesterol drug treatment to help avoid a heart attack and resulting damage to the heart muscle.

Diagnosis and Treatment of Heart Failure

There are tests you take to determine if you have heart failure, and you should consult your primary care physician to find out if one is appropriate for you. If you are diagnosed with heart failure, your doctor will be able to guide you through your choices for treatment, which can include medications and even devices to help the heart function properly.

As always, if you are healthy, your best bet is to avoid it all together. This Heart Month, choose to set yourself up for longevity and vitality. Begin working heart healthy choices into your day, every day.


Joseph Chavez Carey, MD
Dr. Chavez Carey is an Garnet Health Doctors Primary Care Physician. He is Board-certified in Family Medicine, Fluent in Spanish.

He received his medical degree from New York University School of Medicine, New York and completed his internship and residency at Contra Costa Regional Medical Center, California.

To make an appointment with Dr. Chavez Carey, please call 845-333-7830.

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All content presented are provided for informational and educational purposes only, and are not intended to approximate or replace professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.  Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard or delay seeking professional medical advice because of something you have read within the website content. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call 911 immediately.

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