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Success is possible after heart failure diagnosis

By Laura Halm
Published On: Oct 05 2012 04:59:30 PM CDT
LIVE RED
KINGSPORT, Tenn. -

Heart failure is a scary diagnosis that can strike at any age; even scarier, there's a 50 percent chance a patient will survive after being diagnosed.

As part of a series we do every 5th of the month with Wellmont Health System encouraging all women to listen to their heart and Live Red.

The sound of Melissa Chapman's heartbeat is something she certainly doesn't take for granted. "I was born with out my left ventricle," she explained.

But at 26 years old, Chapman was diagnosed with congestive heart failure. "I hate hearing the word heart failure, because a lot of people when you get to that word failure, people think that that's it and that's not true," she said.

About 12 years later Chapman is making strides but still dealing with the ups and downs that go along with heart failure.

Robin Harris is the clinical director of the Heart Success Program and says essentially heart failure means the heart is not pumping and functioning normally. "Women often times may ignore signs and symptoms of heart failure. Those symptoms are fatigue, feeling more tired than usual, noticing a decrease in activity tolerance," added Harris.

But early diagnosis and treatment are key to staying healthy and out of the hospital. "Get patients on appropriate medication therapy to help prevent progression of their heart failure and help patients make important lifestyle changes they need to make," said Harris.

Chapman says while her diagnosis wasn't a surprise she credits the Heart Success Program for saving her life. "I'm just so happy to have a second chance," she said. Really it's not a second chance; this is my third or fourth time around. I'm a Leo, so I have nine lives."

News 5 learned high blood pressure, previous heart attack, and diabetes are some of the factors putting you at risk for heart failure.