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Heart Failure (Congestive Heart Failure)

Lee Health: Your Cardiology Specialists Offering Compassionate Care for Your Heart Failure

Lee Health Cardiology specialists understand heart failure is lifechanging diagnosis. Lee Health is here to help you understand your treatment options for heart failure and how to live your best heart healthy life.

What is heart failure?

Sometimes your heart can no longer provide enough blood to keep up with your body’s needs. This is called heart failure, which can be caused by several different problems including coronary artery disease, cardiomyopathy, heart attack, or congenital problems.

In many cases, we can treat heart failure with medications. But when medications fail and symptoms become severe, our experts will implant a defibrillator or recommend cardiac resynchronization therapy.

  • At the first sign of a heart attack, every second counts. Our emergency cardiac care team is available 24 hours a day at our four adult hospitals.

What are the stages of heart failure?

Heart failure is a chronic condition that progressively gets worse over time. The four heart failure stages are Stages A, B, C, and D. These stages range from high risk of developing heart failure through advanced heart failure.

Stage A of Heart Failure is also referred to as pre-heart failure. This stage means you are a high risk of developing heart failure due to a number of factors such as family history, lifestyle, or medical conditions or treatments. These include:

  • Hypertension
  • Diabetes
  • Coronary artery disease
  • Metabolic syndrome
  • History of alcohol abuse
  • History of rheumatic fever
  • Family history of cardiomyopathy
  • History of taking drugs that can damage your heart muscle, such as some cancer drugs

Stage B of Heart Failure is also considered pre-heart failure. This means your healthcare provider has diagnosed you with systolic left ventricular dysfunction but you’ve not yet presented symptoms of heart failure. For most people with Stage B heart failure an echocardiogram (echo) is used to confirm diagnosis.

Stage C of Heart Failure is when a person has a heart failure diagnosis and currently or previously has shown signs and symptoms of the condition.

Stage D of Heart Failure is the final stage of heart failure and is when symptoms no longer get better with treatment.

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What are the symptoms of heart failure?

There are many symptoms of heart failure, and they may be mild or severe. One of the primary ways your cardiologist will assess your heart is with a cardiac ultrasound. This procedure measures your ejection fraction, which is the percentage of the blood in your heart's left ventricle that is ejected with each heartbeat. A normal ejection fraction is between 55 and 65 percent. Many people with heart failure have an ejection fraction below 40 percent.

Most common symptoms of heart failure:

  • Shortness of breath, particularly when exercising
  • Inability to exercise or perform physical tasks
  • Swollen feet, ankles, lower legs and abdomen (edema)
  • Sudden weight gain from retaining fluid
  • Frequent urination late at night
  • Feeling tired (fatigue)
  • Weak legs

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Causes Heart Failure (Congestive Heart Failure)

While you are more likely to have heart failure when you're older, there are many medical conditions that can contribute to your risk of heart failure.

Common conditions include:

How is heart failure treated?

Medication. Medication is the most common treatment for heart failure, and there are many options available. Your cardiologist will work with you to discover what works best for you!

Implantable defibrillator. Heart failure patients have a higher risk of sudden cardiac death, so you may need an implantable defibrillator, which is implanted surgically. If your heart ever stops suddenly, the defibrillator will shock your heart back to its regular rhythm.

Cardiac resynchronization therapy (CRT). A relatively new treatment, cardiac resynchronization therapy helps your heart to pump more efficiently. A CRT device uses electrical signals to help the heart beat in a more coordinated fashion.

What is Lee Health's approach?

Lee Health offers the most advanced and effective heart rhythm treatments to our patients.We have two fully equipped electrophysiology labs and one dedicated implant room. They are staffed by nurses and technicians who work exclusively on heart rhythm disorders.

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