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At the Heart of the Matter: Moving Forward After Your Heart Failure Hospitalization

A program sponsored by Merck in collaboration with Mended Hearts® to help support people living with heart failure better understand their condition and take a more proactive role in their care.


Defining Heart Failure

Heart failure is a long-lasting condition in which the heart is unable to pump enough blood to meet the body’s needs for blood and oxygen. It often worsens over time. Following a treatment plan made in partnership with your doctor may help manage heart failure to potentially keep it from getting worse.

1 in 5

Americans over age 40 will be diagnosed with heart failure in their lifetime.


In the U.S., heart failure leads to about 1 million hospitalizations every year.

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The Risk of Heart Failure

People who currently have another heart condition or have had one in the past are more likely to develop heart failure. The most common conditions that lead to heart failure are:

  • Coronary artery disease, or the buildup of plaque in the arteries that supply oxygen-rich blood to your heart, which may cause a narrowing or blockage
  • High blood pressure
  • A previous heart attack

Signs and Symptoms of Heart Failure

It’s important to recognize the warning signs of heart failure and talk to your doctor if you’re concerned:

  • Shortness of breath during activity, at rest, or while sleeping
  • Coughing or wheezing
  • Buildup of extra fluid in your body, causing swelling or overall weight gain
  • Not wanting to eat and feeling sick to your stomach
  • Feeling tired all the time
  • Feeling confused or experiencing impaired thinking, such as memory loss and feeling disoriented
  • Experiencing a faster heart rate, or a feeling that your heart is racing or throbbing

It’s Important to Monitor Your Heart Failure

Patients who have had a heart failure hospitalization have a high chance of their signs and symptoms of heart failure getting worse and needing to go back to the hospital for treatment (a worsening event).

If you have been diagnosed with heart failure, watch for new or worsening symptoms, including:

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Increasing shortness of breath

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Swelling, especially in your
legs, ankles and feet

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Weight gain – which may happen over just 1-2 days or more slowly

Finding support

Living with heart failure can be challenging, which is why it’s important to get support when you need it:

  • Have an open conversation with your healthcare provider about heart failure and how it may be impacting you. They can help you learn ways to cope.
  • Seek support from family and friends. Let your loved ones know how you feel and what they can do to help lower your stress.
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