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Heart Failure

One of the most prevalent diagnoses today, heart failure (HF) has been called a new epidemic that affects nearly 5 million Americans.

Physicians and heart experts from across the Berkshire Health Systems network joined forces to create a task force to find better ways to care for patients with heart failure (HF) and to improve their quality of life. This team of staff from across the continuum has been recognized by the American heart Association for their work.

Heart Failure Facts

Each year 550,000 new cases are diagnosed.

  • Heart failure is the leading cause of death and the top cause of hospitalization for people over age 65.
  • Heart failure costs the nation's health care system an estimated $38 billion a year, greatly straining local and national health  care resources.

What is Heart Failure?

Heart failure occurs when the heart becomes weak from disease or structural damage and is unable to fill or pump blood effectively. As the heart weakens, circulation slows and fluid collects in the tissues of the legs and may also back up into the lungs. Common symptoms include severe fatigue, shortness of breath, and leg swelling (edema). Coronary artery disease (CAD) is the leading cause of heart failure. Other risk factors include high blood pressure, damage to the heart from a heart attack, as well as diabetes, thyroid disease, and kidney disease.

Although there is no cure, the number of people who die from heart failure have steadily declined over the past few decades due to a better understanding of the disorder and advancements in treatment.

Heart Failure Project Goals

  • Improve quality of care and outcomes for heart failure patients.
  • Prevent unnecessary emergency department (ED) visits and hospital admissions, thereby improving patient quality of life.
  • Promote appropriate use of ACE inhibitors and other medications that help reduce heart failure related illness and death.
  • Promote better self-management through patient education and lifestyle changes, thus enabling patients to reduce risk factors and recognize and report warning signs to their physician before their condition worsens.
  • Help contain health care costs associated with managing and treating heart failure


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