Janet Rutledge has a big heart.
“I would rather take care of sick people than be one.”
But her heart is not doing its job. She is living with congestive heart failure.
“Probably in the last year I’ve been in the hospital eight or ten times.”
“Congestive heart failure is a build up of fluid in the body because the heart is not managing to clear it as well as it should. There are acute situations where someone suddenly becomes short of breath or has excess fluid requiring hospitalization,” says Dr. Richard Chazal, a cardiologist with Lee Memorial Health System.
Sudden weight gain is a sign the body is retaining fluid.
“The last time I was in the hospital I had I think it was six and a half liters they drained out from my stomach,” says Rutledge.
The condition is linked to high blood pressure, its one of several factors doctors monitor and treat.
“Often we need to use certain blood pressure medications to not only control the blood pressure but also to help the heart muscle pump in a better fashion,” says Dr. Chazal.
Congestive heart failure is not a one-size fits all disease. Patients are scored based on their severity. Their condition can range from mildly inconvenient to disabling.
“I have a golf cart and I ride the park sometimes a couple times a day. I actually just take an oxygen canister with me,” says Rutledge.
“One of our objects is to keep people healthy and out of the hospital and that often is a coordinated effort between the patient, the physician and the nurses that can help the patient by monitoring his or her condition at home,” says Dr. Chazal.
Janet learned careful monitoring is her key to staying home.
“I went to my cardiologist, which he said my heart is doing better than he ever expected.”