Lorri's Congestive Heart Failure Story

May 28, 2019

Patient LorriLorri Brown is a fighter. Diagnosed with congestive heart failure at just 37 years old, she has been on a long road to good health.

Once unable to walk and talk at the same time, she can now enjoy swimming or riding a bike.

“Today I’m practically perfect,” said Lorri, 61, a Surprise resident. “I have my congestive heart failure under control.”

The key to staying in control? Self-determination and care from her cardiologist, Dr. Kris Vijay, director of the new Institute for Congestive Heart Failure at Abrazo Arizona Heart Hospital.

“When it’s a life and death situation, it’s who takes care of you that’s important,” she said.

Lorri’s story of heart failure is all too familiar.

Each year, congestive heart failure (CHF) affects 5.7 million Americans over age 65.  For people with CHF, the heart doesn’t pump as well as it should. A strong heart pumps blood full of oxygen and nutrients to the cells in the body. If the heart becomes weakened, it falls short of supplying blood to the entire body, resulting in fatigue and shortness of breath.

People with CHF also may suffer a range of other symptoms: swelling in the legs, ankles and feet; difficulty breathing while lying flat; weight gain and persistent cough.

Early identification and treatment of CHF can dramatically minimize these impacts and boost quality of life.

As a young woman, Lorri struggled with shortness of breath, fatigue and many other symptoms. She was acutely aware of the impacts of heart failure on family members, and sought out treatment that could change her life.

In 2004, Lorri had a pacemaker defibrillator implanted during an outpatient procedure at Arizona Heart Hospital. She relied on her skilled medical team to help guide her through the journey. 

Abrazo Arizona Heart Hospital provides a wide range of programs and services for cardiac patients at its Phoenix campus.  At the new Institute for Congestive Heart Failure, which includes the Cardiorenal Outpatient Center, specially trained physicians have access to the latest technologies and tools to tailor treatment plans to each patient. Nurse Navigators guide patients every step of the way.

The Institute for Congestive Heart Failure is designed to be one of the most comprehensive centers for patients with heart failure, and Lorri will receive her future care there.

Today, Lorri is determined to help raise awareness about CHF and share her success story with others.

“I watch my diet, low sodium and low fluids. My medication works well. My pacemaker defibrillator works,” Lorri said. 

“I am doing much better. It was a hard road to get to this point,” she said. “(Now) I can ride a bike. I can walk farther than I used to. I can swim.”

Disclaimer: Dr. Kris Vijay is an independent physician and is not an employee, agent or representative of Abrazo Arizona Heart Hospital.  He is solely responsible for the provision of his medical services to patients.