What Heart Failure Means
Heart failure doesn’t mean that your heart has “failed.” It means that your heart isn’t pumping as well as it should be. When this happens, your body doesn’t receive the oxygen-rich blood it needs. You may feel fatigued and short of breath, even after doing a simple activity. Use our heart failure symptoms self-check tool to see if you have any heart failure symptoms.
If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with heart failure, you probably have many questions. We’ll provide you with answers to help you manage your symptoms and achieve your best health. Our skilled heart team will work with you to manage your symptoms and help you lead an active, healthy life.
At Virginia Mason Franciscan Health, we earned the distinction of being the first accredited system for heart failure in the Northwest. In addition, our outpatient program stretches across the entire Virginia Mason Franciscan Health network — from Bremerton to Enumclaw — and includes resources to help you successfully manage heart failure.
Diagnosing heart failure
Accurate diagnosis is the first important step in a treatment plan. The more precisely your condition can be diagnosed, the more personalized and effective your treatment plan will be.
The first step in diagnosis begins with an evaluation from a provider. We’ll ask about your symptoms, discuss your personal and family heart history, perform a physical examination and listen to your heart.
We’ll most likely recommend further diagnostic tests to better determine if you have heart failure. These tests can include:
- Blood tests - We check your cholesterol levels and assess how your liver, kidneys and thyroid glands are functioning
- Echocardiogram - This test evaluates how well your heart pumps blood
- Chest X-ray - An X-ray provides detailed images of the structure of your heart muscle
- Exercise stress test - This shows how your blood flows when you’re exercising or placing stress on your heart
Caring for heart failure requires an individualized approach. Our cardiologists will work closely with you to monitor your symptoms and overall health, including diet, weight, fluid retention, medications, physical activity and home and family support to ensure the best care possible. Your provider will also help you identify worsening symptoms so you know when to act.
Your cardiologist may recommend attending our Heart Health - Cardiac Rehabilitation, a structured cardiac rehabilitation program. People who are treated in heart failure clinics often have more energy for the things they love to do, increase their feeling of control over their disease, are healthier and experience fewer hospitalizations.
Heart failure clinics
Our heart failure clinics, located in Franciscan Heart & Vascular Associates offices in the Franciscan Medical Pavilion in Tacoma, in the Highline Medical Pavilion in Burien, and at St. Michael Medical Center - Silverdale provide comprehensive outpatient care for people living with heart failure. Learn more about Virginia Mason Franciscan Health’s heart failure clinics by calling one of our locations below.
Your Heart Care Team
When Do You Need a Heart Specialist?
Your First Cardiology Visit
Recovering from Heart Surgery
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Conditions We Treat
Abdominal Aortic Aneurysms
Arrhythmias and Atrial Fibrillation (Afib)
Chest Pain (Angina)
Deep Vein Thrombosis
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> Heart Failure
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Why Choose Us for Heart Care?
Heart Health: Prevention and Support
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