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We are a team of specialist heart failure nurses who work within Coventry and Rugby, supporting patients and their family and/or carers with heart failure management in the hospital and the community.
We provide comprehensive care for patients with heart failure, which means your heart is not pumping blood around your body as well as it should. The most common causes of heart failure are a heart attack, high blood pressure or Cardiomyopathy – a disease of the heart muscle. This can be inherited, or caused by infection or pregnancy, for example. Heart failure can also be caused by heart valve disease, abnormal heart rhythms, congenital heart conditions, endocarditis (infection of the heart), excessive alcohol consumption, anaemia, thyroid gland disease and some cancer treatments.
If it is suspected you might have heart failure, we will often do some blood tests to look for signs of weakness or strain on the heart. Following this, they will then refer you to the heart failure team/clinic. It does not mean your heart has stopped working. However, you may need treatment and support to help it work better.
The Heart Failure Service provides a comprehensive service for patients with heart failure, from pre-diagnosis onwards.
Our service includes:
  • Assessment and diagnosis of people with possible heart failure
  • Assessment for new therapies and/or devices
  • Evaluation and support for patients
Heart failure is a condition which has many possible causes and it is likely that you will require a number of different tests which may include:
  • Echocardiogram
  • CT scan
  • MRI scan
  • Coronary angiogram
When you are diagnosed with heart failure, we will see you either on the hospital ward, in the heart failure clinic or at home, depending on your needs. We offer:
  • Help you, your family and/or carer understand and manage your condition
  • key lifestyle advice
  • Explain the benefits and side effects of medications
  • Clinically examine you and take blood tests if necessary
  • Counselling
  • Liaise with your GP and Cardiologist
  • Refer you to other health professionals as appropriate
  • Psychological support
  •  Links with palliative services when needed.
We work closely with our clinical partners to ensure our patients have access to the best diagnostic tools and imaging, and liaise with a network of health care professionals to provide seamless care across the region. Most people who have heart failure are treated with medication. The medication has been prescribed to reduce your risk of further disease progression, and also to manage symptoms. Different people will be on different tablets and perhaps different dosages.
The following is not a complete list of all medications used. Often you may need a number of different medications to treat your symptoms, depending on the type of heart failure you have. It’s important to know what you’re taking, why you are taking it, and how it will affect you.
  • Ace inhibitors (eg Ramipril, Lisinopril, Perindopril, Enalapril).
  • Angiotensin Receptor Blockers (ARB’s) (eg Candersartan, Losartan)
  • Beta Blockers (eg Bisoprolol, Carvedilol, Nebivolol, Metoprolol) • Mineralcorticoid Antagonists (MRA’s) ( Spironlactone, Eplerenone)
  • Loop diuretics (eg Furosemide, Bumetanide)
  • Thiazide diuretics (eg Bendroflumethiazide , Metolazone)
  • Sodium glucose transport protein 2 inhibitor (SGLT2 inhibitor) (Dapagliflozin)
  • Angiotensin Receptor Neprilysin Inhibitor – (Sacubitril/Valsartan) (Entresto)
  • Ivabradine
Other medications which may be used in your heart failure treatment:
  • Amiodarone
  • Digoxin
  • Hydralizine
  • Isosorbide Dinitrate
  • Glyceryl Trinitrate (GTN) Tablets/Spray
  • Anti coagulants – Warfarin
  • Alternative to Warfarin (DOACs), Dabigatran,Rivaroxaban, Apixaban, Edoxaban
  • Statins
Some people will need a small procedure to implant a device to control their heart rhythm, which then may help in the pumping action of the heart. Your heart failure consultant or heart failure nurse will talk to you if this is the right treatment option for you.
My Marvellous Guide to having a cardiac device fitted.
Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator.
If you hold a driving licence you should inform the DVLA that you have had a cardiac device fitted. Please check with the DVLA website regarding up to date information of when you may be able to start to drive as the restrictions will impact your driving insurance.
If your heart failure is caused by a valve disease you may be able to have an operation to repair or replace the affected valve. If your heart failure is caused by coronary heart disease, then an angioplasty/stents or a Coronary artery Bypass Graft maybe an option to help improve your symptoms.
All of these options would be discussed with you by your heart failure team if they feel it is an appropriate intervention. Unless your doctor has told you to give up alcohol altogether you should try and keep within the recommended guidance and avoid binge drinking. Men and women shouldn’t drink more than 14 units a week and should have several alcohol free days a week.
Drinking more than the recommended amount (this is a limit not a target!) may cause high blood pressure, damage your heart muscle, cause heart rhythm disturbances , change your fluid balance (and increase swelling), lead to weight gain and make some symptoms of heart failure worse. If you are taking certain medication such as warfarin, it may interact with how the medication works. If your heart failure is directly related to drinking alcohol you may be advised to stop entirely.
Smoking increases the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases, which includes coronary heart disease and stroke. Smokers are almost twice as likely to have a heart attack compared with people who have never smoked. Smoking increases the workload of the heart and decreases the amount of oxygen that can be carried in your blood. Giving up smoking is one of the most important things you can do to protect your heart and improve your symptoms. It is never too late to give up! We can support you to give up smoking, just speak to your heart failure team.
Regular physical activity can help improve your symptoms and your general health. You may be offered an exercised based cardiac rehabilitation programme including exercise, education and emotional support. Being active can be difficult if you are limited to how much you can do. However being active is an excellent way to protect the heart. By being active you can:
  • Help to reduce some of your symptoms such as shortness of breath and fatigue and in turn raise your energy levels.
  • Strengthen muscles around your body to reduce the demand on your heart, therefore improving your ability to perform daily living activities such as housework, gardening or shopping.
  • Reduce stress levels. Lower levels of anxiety and depression which increases confidence and sense of well-being.
  • Reduce your blood pressure
  • Help to increase the protective type of protective cholesterol in your blood
  • Control your weight
  • Helps you to sleep
  • Helps to keep your joints mobile.
Unless you have been told by your Heart Failure team to rest completely, regular activity and exercise will help strengthen your heart, control your symptoms and make you feel better.
If you have not been active for a long while or are new to doing any activity then talk to your heart failure team about how to start. Often a daily walk is a useful form of exercise, even if it is just moving around the house and not sitting in the chair all of the time.
What is important is that the activity is regular, it suits your level of heart failure and you do some every day. National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidance says that most people with heart failure can travel by plane. However, during the flight legs and ankles tend to swell and breathing may become more difficult for people with severe heart failure. Check with your GP or heart specialist before planning to travel. All airlines have their own guidance for defining when a patient is medically fit to fly. Please check with the airline prior to booking.
Being a carer for someone with heart failure can be very difficult at times but also very rewarding. You are their nurse, a friend, a confident and a personal assistant. It is important that you learn about their heart failure and what to look for to monitor their symptoms:
  • Leg swelling
  • Shortness of breath
  • Weight gain
You may need to be an advocate and listen, know how their medications work, promote physical activity; learn about nutrition and by there to support emotional needs. Saying this, it is also important that you take care of yourself. You may also need support from someone else, GP, a friend or a support group. Take time to still have your own interests as well. If you need help with day to day living because of illness or disability, or if you care for someone regularly because they are ill elderly or disabled, you may be able to obtain some assistance.
Please refer to your Red, Amber and Green symptom guide given to you when you first met your Heart Failure Nurse. This includes:
  • Weighing yourself
  • Checking for any increase in swelling in your feet, ankles, legs and abdomen
  • If you have a blood pressure machine you could chart your blood pressure and heart rate once a day to report to health professionals for telephone reviews
  • Monitor if you are more short of breath on exertion.
If you notice any deteriorating symptoms of Heart Failure it is important to report this to your Heart Failure Nurse, or GP, or out of hours phone 111. Early action may help to keep you out of hospital.
Information coming soon
Community Heart Failure Nursing Service
Paybody Building, Stoney Stanton Road, Coventry, CV1 4FS, Tel: 0300 3032444.
University Hospital Coventry and Warwick Heart Failure Nursing Service
Cardiology offices, 1st Floor, East Wing, Clifford Bridge Road, Coventry, CV2 2DX. Tel: 02476 965814.
Rugby St Cross Heart Failure Nursing Service
Hospital of St Cross, Barby Rd, Rugby, CV22 5PX. 01788 663944.