News & Events

Heart Failure Care

July 15, 2016


ALLIANCE --A diagnosis of heart failure need not be dire as long as the patient understands that he or she will need to adhere to a lifetime of proper managed care, according to Stephanie Boyd, director of the Aultman Heart Center at Alliance Community Hospital, who spoke at ACH Friday.


Proper managed care includes a number of steps depending on the severity of the heart failure.  In most cases, according to Boyd, managed care would include attention to lifestyle changes, possible weight loss, proper diet, and the right medications.


“Heart failure usually doesn’t happen overnight,” Boyd said.  “Heart failure is a progressively worsening condition when the heart gets weak and can no longer pump enough blood to meet the body’s needs.”


According to Boyd, there are four different types of heart failure but they are all linked to the left ventricle, which is the “powerhouse of the heart” since it is the heart’s primary pumping chamber. The sooner heart failure is recognized, the more likely it is that a successful plan for managed care can be put in place, she said.


Among the symptoms of heart failure are: shortness of breath, swelling in the ankles and legs, bloating in the abdomen, sudden weight gain of two to three pounds in a day or five pounds in a week, dry hacking cough , lack of appetite, and trouble lying flat to sleep.  Boyd added that a doctor’s visit is suggested if the symptoms are persistent.


Adhering to the adage, “we are what we eat,” Boyd emphasized the role that diet plays in managing heart failure.  “We need to pay attention to what our ancestors did for food, eating things that came from the earth and avoiding processed and pre-packaged food,” she said.


She pointed out that sodium is a huge culprit when trying to be heart-healthy and encouraged patients to know how to read food labels and be aware of sodium levels when dining out in order to stay within the recommended limit of 2,000 mg. of sodium per day.  To emphasize her point, she asked the audience to guess the number of milligrams of sodium in a “loaded’ Chicago-style hot dog drawing gasps when she flashed the answer: 2,330, well above the daily recommended allowance.


Boyd said that “salty six” types of food to avoid are bread and rolls, cold cuts and processed meats, pizza, poultry with skins, soup and sandwiches.  “It is not always evident that sodium lurks within the salty six, but they are not friends of heart failure, and this also applies to people who have not yet experienced heart failure,” she said.


While a proper diet is important, it is not the only step in a managed care program.  Boyd said lifestyle choices are also important with an emphasis on increased activity and movement, stress relief, not smoking and limiting alcohol intake.


For more information pertaining to cardiac issues, Boyd can be reached at  

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