I am a 51-year-old wife and mother of two with no prior health conditions. Following a mild COVID-19 infection in 2020, I sustained myocardial damage and went into heart failure just after Christmas of 2021. With a newly empty nest, my husband and I were both looking forward to more travel and new hobbies together. While we still plan on those things, we have recently been spending time adjusting to life with HF.
Before my diagnosis, we were wine enthusiasts and ate out pretty often. We’ve since adapted and learned to enjoy cooking at home, figuring out new ways to make dishes both delicious and heart healthy. Mocktails are also something new that we’ve learned to make as a substitute for wine. I still enjoy an occasional glass of wine from time to time though, since my doctor says that is permitted. Although it’s more challenging, it’s very doable.
In addition to managing my diet and nutrition, as well as walking daily, I’ve had a good response to my heart failure medication regimen. It was difficult adjusting to all these new medications, as some of them had bothersome side effects, but luckily, most of those subsided in the early months.
My three-month follow-up was a huge milestone for me when I saw some improvement on the echocardiogram. While my initial ejection fraction (EF) was 25%, it has now improved to 50-55%. I do everything to maintain the gains I have reached, and I’m grateful for the care provided by my health care team and for recent pharmaceutical research that has led to better treatment.
As a former registered nurse (ironically in cardiac care!) turned portrait art broker, I have found firsthand the difference patient education and good communication can make in the life of someone who is newly diagnosed with HF. When I was first diagnosed and having symptoms, I felt blind-sided and thought my life was over. Now, I see that if I follow the guidelines of my healthcare team, I can do so much more than I imagined. I am hopeful for my future and for better treatments on the horizon.