Heart Failure Stiff Heart: Hi All... - British Heart Fou...

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Heart Failure Stiff Heart

ButterflyRose profile image
10 Replies

Hi All,

Does anyone have any knowledge or experience of Stiff Heart / Heart Failure please?

Just been told briefly yesterday and struggling to take it all in 🙏🏻

Thank you

10 Replies
Lezzers profile image

Hi ButterflyRose

My husband has heart failure as a result of a massive heart attack in 1997. In 2020 an echo showed the stiffening of his heart, a result of the damage caused by his heart attack, has gone from moderate to severe.

Whilst I do know about heart failure I don't really understand the stiffening heart bit as at that time he was asymptomatic and a near normal EF (ejection faction). Your EF is a measurement of how much blood is pumped out of your heart with each heart beat.

Unfortunately, last year he had to have cancer treatment, this has caused worsening HF symptoms & caused a big drop in his EF, he has recently started Entresto to help with this.

People can & do live with HF for many years, my husband was diagnosed in 2012. HF simply means your heart needs a bit of support as it's not pumping as well as it should.

If you have any questions please don't hesitate to ask.

ButterflyRose profile image
ButterflyRose in reply to Lezzers

Lezzers thank you for sharing your husbands experience with HF and your words of positivity 🙏🏻✨

My Dad, age 81 went in for an appointment about his oedema week before last and has been in hospital since. The doctor then told me Dad has a stiff heart and it all became too overwhelming (I don’t know why they have never mentioned this before as he’s had ECHO’s etc) My Dad is still in hospital and is being treated with diuretics, but I am not getting a good vibe from the doctors about his recovery.

I’ve tried to reply to these posts many times, but struggled with what to say. It all feels very surreal.

Lezzers profile image
Lezzers in reply to ButterflyRose

I haven't replied to you before now as I wasn't really sure what to say, not knowing the full situation it's difficult to give any advice. Firstly, It's not unusual for someone with HF to be hospitalised for oedema, in most cases this can be successfully drained by intravenous diuretics.

GFFF has already given a good explanation regarding a stiff heart. I would ask to speak to the cardiologist who is dealing with your dad & ask him/her to explain exactly how bad or not so bad the stiffening is, how it will be treated, how much they expect your dad to recover from this and what to expect going forward. However, though I don't want to give you false hope, please remember dr's usually give a worse case scenario. I would also ask was any stiffening noticed on any previous echos, it may be a case that this is a recent development or the stiffening was so minor that it didn't really warrant attention. Unfortunately that does happen, we recently found out that my husband has plaque on his pleural wall due to asbestos exposure, apparently this was noticed a few years ago but we were never made aware of it, fortunately this plaque hasn't worsened over the years and is now not likely too.

I'm guessing you're feeling overwhelmed at the moment, give yourself some 'me' time, when you're tired, stressed, worried etc it's too easy to see focus on the negatives. Xx

ButterflyRose profile image
ButterflyRose in reply to Lezzers

Thank you Lezzers. I really appreciate it xxx

GFFF profile image

HiThink of a healthy heart made of soft squidgy muscle, during a heart attack parts of it get starved of oxygen, the muscle then becomes less pliable. Once the heart has become stiff, it is harder for it to relax and contract as it used yo which makes pumping the blood much more of an effort x

Anon2023 profile image

Hi. Heart failure is an awful term which often strikes fear into us all. When I was told I was in heart failure I immediately googled it and thought I only had 5 years to live. I didn’t realise at the time that the statistic is outdated and not even relevant to the majority of people. I saw a cardiologist recently who suggested we call it heart inefficiency instead. It just means at at the moment your heart isn’t working as well as it could. I’m now on a raft of medication to improve my heart function and was told by the heart failure team that if they work I could possibly be out of heart failure by the end of the year. I have damage to my heart muscle as a result of endocarditis and while damage to heart muscle doesn’t normally repair I’m told that your heart can compensate by making the undamaged parts stronger. This is where exercise and medication can help. There are many people on this forum who live long and full lives with heart inefficiency including one regular contributor who has just registered as a professional athelete!! Treatments are improving all of the time and the new medications are making such a difference. I know that you will feel afraid and overwhelmed but please don’t think that you are alone. Your not. X

ButterflyRose profile image
ButterflyRose in reply to Anon2023

Thank you Anon2023, I have hope 🙏🏻❤️ But feel for my Dad it was discovered to late, it’s difficult to explain, but I can’t understand why it was not flagged when he has had an ECHO etc and we were not made aware, until his increased odema and we are now being told. I feel if told earlier we too could have maybe helped managed with medications 🙏🏻

Anon2023 profile image
Anon2023 in reply to ButterflyRose

Hi. I’ve met a lot of health care professionals who are not good at communicating so try not to second guess what they are thinking. I know that’s easier said than done when you are feeling so worried. I would be persistent and try and get one of the doctors to explain to you what is going on. Does your dad still have capacity? If so, the doctors may not share information with you unless your dad has given consent. I really feel got for you being in this situation, I went through it with both of my parents and it’s very hard. I’m thinking of you.

ButterflyRose profile image
ButterflyRose in reply to Anon2023

Thank you so much 🙏🏻❤️

It’s a feeling of drowning and trying to stay afloat for me and keeping strong for them ❤️❤️

RufusScamp profile image

I agree with the other posters. "Heart failure" is a dreadful term. It should be more "slight heart inefficiency", which is a bit less snappy, I agree.I think all of us who post here have felt the shock of finding things aren't quite right, but treatment has greatly improved in recent years.

Things to concentrate on are making sure you eat well, and get regular gentle exercise, whatever is recommended by your cardio team. If you are offered a cardio rehab course, take it.

The BHF website has loads of useful information.

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