Understanding heart failure: What is it?
Sometimes your heart can no longer provide enough blood to keep you 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.
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
- Swelling in the legs, ankles or feet
- Sudden weight gain from retaining fluid
- Frequent urination late at night
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.