Harry S. Truman Memorial Veterans’ Hospital
Meet the Heart Failure Team
Helen Feldker, Nurse Practitioner, knows a thing or two about heart failure. After graduating with her Masters of Science in Nursing in 1993, she began working at Truman VA as an advanced practice nurse. She has been working with heart failure patients since 1994 and helped establish the heart failure clinic at Truman VA in September 2005.
Heart failure is what occurs when the heart cannot pump the amount of blood that the body needs. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 5.1 million people suffer from heart failure in the United States. Signs and symptoms of heart failure include shortness of breath during activities, swelling in the lower extremities, and experiencing trouble breathing when lying down flat. Some of the most common risk factors for heart failure are coronary artery disease, high blood pressure and diabetes.
Early diagnosis and treatment of heart failure can improve a person’s quality and length of life. Thankfully, we have an extensive, Veteran-centered heart failure program at Truman VA. The goals of the program are to help Veterans receive the treatment they need to manage their heart failure. The program assists heart failure patients by optimizing medications, providing education and making referrals for advanced procedures and tests. In some cases, patients can benefit from advanced medical therapies such as left ventricular assist devices or transplants. Once Veterans are diagnosed with heart failure, they will be referred to Helen Feldker and the cardiology team.
Helen and the heart failure care coordinator, Ann Beasley, RN, work very closely to provide the best care possible to Veterans. Helen is passionate about her work and cares deeply for her heart failure patients. In fact, Helen’s work in heart failure has been published in the 2008 Missouri Medicine Journal where she co-authored the article, “Managing Heart Failure Better: The Value of Implantable Device Data.” No one receives “cookie cutter” treatment in her clinic and all of her patients receive the best treatment plans that fit their goals and lifestyles. Helen has a way of empowering patients through her hands on approach and dedication to the program.
If you are interested in learning more about the Heart Failure clinic, please contact your primary care physician or visit the VA Health Education Library for more information.