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Heart failure

Heart failure is a serious medical condition where the heart is unable to pump enough blood around the body to fulfil all the body’s requirements. Patients typically present with a combination of breathlessness and fatigue and this may be associated with swelling of the ankles or the abdomen. Heart failure is a common condition which affects 1-2% of the UK population and becomes more common as patients grow older. The average age of a heart failure patient in the UK is 76 years but it can affect people of all ages. Heart failure is commonly due to a heart muscle weakness, which may have been caused by a heart attack or a more generalised muscle weakness (a cardiomyopathy). Valve disease (a leaking or narrowed valve) and high blood pressure can also lead to heart failure. Whilst heart failure is a very serious condition, many treatment options are available including a variety of medications which have been shown to improve symptoms and make patients live longer. Certain patients will also benefit from specialised pacemakers (biventricular pacemaker or cardiac resynchronisation therapy), implantable defibrillators and a few patients may benefit from cardiac surgery. Dr. Flett is experienced in the insertion of ICDs and biventricular pacemakers. Patients often benefit from frequent careful monitoring and gradual changes in medications. With modern therapies, most patients can lead independent fulfilling lives. Dr Cowburn also has specialist expertise in a method for removing excess fluid in hear failure called ultrafiltration, he was one of the first doctors in the UK to use this novel technique.

Wessex Cardiology