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Enjoying Life With Heart Failure

Monday, Oct 31, 2016

Advanced procedures and multiple hospitalizations saved Mark Schelling's life following a series of life-threatening cardiac episodes, but his damaged heart could no longer pump blood efficiently throughout his body — a serious disorder known as heart failure.

Mark, 70, chose cardiologist Renee Sangrigoli, MD, of the award-winning Heart Failure Program at Doylestown Health's Richard A. Reif Heart Institute, to help him manage his high-risk condition. There's no cure for heart failure, but thanks to lifestyle changes, a heart-healthy diet, heart failure medications including a new medication clinically proven to reduce hospital stays, and a device implanted in Mark's chest, he's enjoying life and looking forward to returning to the golf course this spring.

Mark's Story: Enjoying Life With Heart Failure [Video]

His Implantable Biventricular Cardiac Defibrillator, or ICD, can detect and treat life-threatening arrhythmia by pacing the heart quickly to restore normal rhythm and, if this fails, this device can deliver a life-saving shock, according to Dr. Sangrigoli. The device uses resynchronization technology to coordinate heart function which leads to a more effective pump function. This device can also give an estimate of fluid balance which is important in heart failure treatment.

"Currently, new transmitting software allows us to monitor Mark's rhythm both in the office and remotely from home using Bluetooth technology," says Dr. Sangrigoli.

A semi-retired advertising consultant from Doylestown, Pennsylvania, Mark is able to drive, work and enjoy walks with his wife and their three dogs. Mark says it is reassuring to have a state-of-the-art monitor tracking his heart activity.

"When I go for my three-month appointment, in a matter of minutes, Dr. Sangrigoli has a snapshot of what my arrhythmia has been. I can't sing the praises of Doylestown Hospital's doctors and staff enough. I appreciate their concern, compassion, professionalism and, ultimately, very positive results."

Understanding Heart Failure

Heart failure is a term to describe that the heart is no longer working efficiently — it is unable to pump with enough forward force, or to relax to allow proper filling, or both, according to Dr. Sangrigoli. Causes vary, and include heart attack, coronary artery disease, high blood pressure, heart valve disease, inherited cardiac disorders and other risk factors.

Advanced, Connected Care with a Personal Approach

Heart failure experts at Doylestown Health's Reif Heart Institute design evidence-based care plans to produce the best possible results. Comprehensive treatment options include medications, lifestyle changes, extensive education and ongoing support, cardiac rehabilitation, research opportunities and device therapy.

Doylestown Health's Heart Failure Program [Video]

Excellent continuity of care is strengthened by a devoted heart failure coordinator and a knowledgeable inpatient staff including nursing, heart failure dietitians, case managers and connected cardiac rehabilitation services. Patients and families receive personalized, one-on-one education from the coordinator, dietitians and cardiac rehabilitation team.

Device Therapy to Keep Patients Well

Cardiologists use specific criteria to determine what is best for each patient, including whether or not the patient would benefit from device therapy. "Any time you're considering implanting devices into patients, you have to discuss in detail the risks and benefits," says Dr. Sangrigoli. Options include implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICDs) to detect and correct life-threatening arrhythmia, or resynchronization pacemakers or resynchronization defibrillators to coordinate heart function in addition to pacing and life-saving features.

When more is needed, left ventricular assist devices (LVADs), or mechanical heart pumps, support patients awaiting transplants and offer long-term assistance for patients with end-stage heart failure.

Find a Cardiologist Near You

About Doylestown Health's Heart Institute

Expert cardiologists and cardiac surgeons assist patients and physicians with managing risk factors for heart disease, offer advanced treatment options and provide outstanding emergency cardiac care. The multidisciplinary team at the Heart Institute is dedicated to providing the highest level of quality care and patient safety.

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