Mnemonic Monday: A broken heart… Part Two!

By Molly Lewis

A broken heart… Part Two!heartIn my last mnemonic, I taught you how to remember the 1st step treatment for acute CHF exacerbation. Now, here’s a trick to help you think through what might be causing your patient’s sudden deterioration!

CHF exacerbation causes: 

——–   FAILURE   ——–

(or, FAAIIILURE, if you prefer…)



  • Forgot medication  
    • (I don’t know about you, but I had to make my calendar email me each night to remind me to take my Vitamin D and calcium. So, when my patient is on about 25 different meds, I don’t blame them for forgetting a few once in a while… )
  • Arrhythmia         
  • Anemia       
  • Ischemia
  • Infarct
  • Infection     
  • Lifestyle
    • for example, diet: increased sodium intake, decreased exercise
      • This is the most common cause!
  • Upregulation
    • increased cardiac output due to increased demand:
      •  pregnancy
      • hyperthyroidism
      • anemia
      • etc
  • Renal failure     
    • Fluid overload -> increased work for the heart
  • Embolus
    • pulmonary embolism
      • Massive PE’s can -> right-sided heart failure

Once you have figured out what caused your patient’s exacerbation, you can correct the problem and take steps to prevent it from happening all over again! Your patient will get to stay out of the hospital, and you will avoid getting a call in the middle of the night for a “bounce-back” admission!

(PS: I love mnemonics that have a phrase that matches the disease they are designed for, like this one: “FAILURE” for the causes of acute heart failure. Otherwise, you might need a mnemonic just to help you remember which mnemonic goes with which disease!).




CHF exacerbation mnemonic:

Categories: Mnemonics

4 replies »

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