Heart Failure

What is Heart Failure?

Heart failure is a condition in which the heart cannot pump enough blood to meet the body's needs, resulting in inadequate blood flow to vital organs such as the kidneys and lungs.

There are two types of heart failure: heart failure with reduced ejection fraction (HFrEF) and heart failure with preserved ejection fraction (HFpEF). In the case of someone with HFrEF, the heart muscle is too weak to adequately pump out blood. With HFpEF, the heart muscle is too stiff to fill with blood properly. Treatment of heart failure depends largely on the underlying cause.

Risk Factors

  • Hypertension
  • Coronary artery disease
  • Valvular disease (such as mitral regurgitation)
  • Cardiomyopathy

Symptoms

  • Shortness of breath
  • Fatigue 
  • Weakness
  • Lower leg or feet swelling
  • Lightheadedness or dizziness
  • Weight gain

Diagnosis and Tests

If your physician suspects that you have heart failure, he or she may order the following tests to evaluate and monitor your condition: 

  • Electrocardiogram (ECG)
  • Chest x-ray
  • Echocardiogram 
  • Brain natriuretic peptide (BNP) blood test
  • Stress test
  • Cardiac catheterization

Treatments

  • Low-salt diet
  • Regular exercise
  • Smoking cessation
  • Reduced alcohol intake
  • Healthy weight maintenance
  • Maximizing medications
  • Rhythm management
  • Cardiac stents
  • Coronary artery bypass grafting surgery