Heart Failure: Hard to Handle?

By: Dierdre Walsh, MMSc, PA-C

There are nearly 6.5 million Americans living with congestive heart failure. According to the AHA, that number is projected to rise to 8 million people by the year 2030. Given those statistics, it’s guaranteed that you will likely encounter, diagnose, treat, and manage heart failure during your career.

Cardiovascular diseases, including coronary artery disease, stroke, and hypertension, remain the leading cause of death, with heart disease accounting for one out of every four deaths worldwide. What can you do as a provider to improve these statistics?

Your patient presents for their routine physical. You notice that they seem more short of breath, become dyspneic easily with conversation, and have some mild lower extremity edema. You start with an EKG that shows new, but old ischemic changes. You also notice a new systolic murmur on exam. Their blood pressure is elevated, and they tell you they haven’t taken their blood pressure medication in months. What do you do next?

You get called to see a patient on the floor who is tachycardic, borderline hypotensive, with an O2 sat of 87%. The nurse tells you their respiratory rate has increased over the last hour. On exam, they are cool to touch with bilateral crackles. You’re concerned this patient may be in cardiogenic shock. What’s your next step?

We hope to see you at GAPA to discuss the management of patients just like those presented in the above scenarios. It’s time to demystify heart failure!


See Deirdre Walsh, MMSC, PA-C speak at the GAPA 2020 Summer Conference in Sandestin, FL.

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