Heart failure often travels with other health conditions. In fact, most heart failure patients have at least two other chronic conditions — most commonly high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and type 2 diabetes, and anemia.
The more of these other conditions, called comorbidities, that one has, the greater the increase in risks for hospitalization and an earlier death. Thus, there’s good reason to do all you can to manage each condition as well as possible and stick with your medications.
Make sure you inform your heart failure care team about the other conditions you might have and what treatment you’re receiving for them. Your symptoms may respond better to some heart failure drugs compared with others, or doses might need to be adjusted. For example, a person with heart failure with preserved ejection fraction (HFpEF) might need to avoid beta-blocker medication but do well on a diuretic for blood pressure control.
SGLT2 inhibitor medications are recommended for treatment of both HFpEF and HFrEF (heart failure with reduced ejection fraction), regardless of diabetes status. But for those with type 2 diabetes, there’s extra reason to use one of these medications, because they are recommended as part of the regimen for controlling glucose as well.
Everyone with heart failure is recommended to be checked for anemia and treated with infusions of iron to correct any deficiency that is found. Oral iron supplements don’t absorb as well and haven’t been shown to work for people with heart failure.
Coordination across all the doctors you see is important. A team approach to heart failure care, with close coordination between primary care and subspecialty doctors and nurses, has been linked to lower hospitalization rates and costs of treatment and to better functional status.
If your care teams aren’t set up with a structure to coordinate amongst them, consider making notes about changes in your treatment for each condition to take with you on visits to other specialists, including new or discontinued medications and changes in dosages or diagnoses.
Read previous installments in this series:
For Your Patients: What is Heart Failure?
For Your Patients: How Is Heart Failure Diagnosed?
For Your Patients: Getting the Most From Heart Failure Visits
For Your Patients: Self-Care for Heart Failure
For Your Patients: What to Expect From Cardiac Rehabilitation
“Medical Journeys” is a set of clinical resources reviewed by doctors, meant for physicians and other healthcare professionals as well as the patients they serve. Each episode of this journey through a disease state contains both a physician guide and a downloadable/printable patient resource. “Medical Journeys” chart a path each step of the way for physicians and patients and provide continual resources and support, as the caregiver team navigates the course of a disease.