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Richard’s Story: Heart Failure

Learn how heart failure patient Richard Neuman and his cardiologist, Mark Milunski MD, FACC work as a team to manage Richard’s condition.

Statistics show that an estimated five million Americans have heart failure. People who smoke, have diabetes and high blood pressure are at risk. So are people like Richard. He had a family history of heart problems and high cholesterol, likely in part from his love of fast food.

Richard Neuman is a guy who will tell you how much he enjoys his life.

Richard: “It’s just awesome! I love it!”

Almost every day, you will find him on the driving range.

Richard: “I’ve been playing this game for over 50 years, and it’s my life. I love it!”

But a few years ago, his heart health kept him from doing what he loves.

Richard: “I didn’t feel like doing anything; I was so tired.”

Richard was diagnosed with heart failure. Simply put, heart failure is the inability of the heart to pump blood efficiently. Dr. Mark Milunski, a Florida Hospital cardiologist says “some of the earliest symptoms of heart failure can be very subtle. They can be anything from mild shortness of breath to perhaps not being able to do activities as you once were able to.”

Statistics show that an estimated five million Americans have heart failure. People who smoke, have diabetes and high blood pressure are at risk. So are people like Richard. He had a family history of heart problems and high cholesterol, likely in part from his love of fast food.

Richard: “Boy, when you over indulge in it day after day that’s when you run into trouble. When I was younger, I lived on cheeseburgers, french fries and Cokes.”

Not anymore. Richard knows he has to answer to his cardiologist and his wife. They make a formidable team.

Dr. Milunski: “You’re watching yourself at home…not consuming more salt than usual?”

Richard, his wife and Dr. Milunski have formed a successful partnership to manage his heart failure.

Dr. Milunski: “He is a living example of what you can accomplish in someone who is motivated, who knows his illness well, has a very supportive spouse and who just does everything like they’re supposed to.”

That means meals that help control Richard’s cholesterol and sugar levels.

Richard’s wife: “We do eat a lot of fish, but we eat it a lot of different ways.”

A diet that doesn’t include fatty foods. Richard’s wife sees to it.

Richard’s wife: “I like to fix healthy food…not slumpy.” (Slumpy is her word for grease.)

Richard does his part. He exercises and takes his medicine. His advice to those newly diagnosed with heart failure is “Don’t be afraid of it. Keep moving, do what the doctor tells you to do, keep in touch with him. That’s all I can tell you. You can’t do it yourself; you have to have somebody help you.”

Richard’s wife helps him, and so does his cardiologist, who says heart failure is no longer considered a “death sentence.”

Dr. Milunski: “We give our patients a lot of encouragement and tell them that if they follow that advice with respect to medications, exercise and device therapy where appropriate they can often lead quite active lives and participate in many activities that they had before they were given the diagnosis of heart failure.”

For Richard, that means the chance to work on his short game anytime he wants.

Keep moving. Do what the doctor tells you to do... . You can’t do it yourself. You have to have somebody help you.

Richard Neuman: Heart Failure Patient

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