Heart failure is a condition in which your heart is not pumping blood efficiently. Heart failure does not mean that your heart has stopped or is about to stop working. It means that your heart can't pump enough blood to meet your body's needs.
Many conditions that damage the heart muscle can cause heart failure, including:
- Coronary artery disease
- Heart attack
- High blood pressure (hypertension)
- Heart valve disease
- Abnormal heart rhythms (arrhythmia)
- Thyroid or kidney problems
- Congenital heart disease
Heart Failure Symptoms
Many symptoms of heart failure result from the congestion that develops as fluid backs up into the lungs and leaks into the tissues (congestive heart failure). Other symptoms result from inadequate delivery of oxygen-rich blood to the body’s tissues.
The weakening of the heart's pumping ability causes symptoms including:
- Fluid in the feet, ankles and legs, causing swelling known as edema
- Shortness of breath
- Dizziness, fatigue or weakness
- Difficulty lying flat or having to sleep upright
- Chest pain
- Rapid or irregular heartbeat
Heart Failure Diagnosis
Our cardiac specialists at Wake Forest Baptist use the latest tools and techniques to determine whether you have heart failure. We begin with a physical exam and your medical and family history. Your physician may then recommend any of the following tests:
- Blood tests, especially B-type natriuretic peptide (BNP) blood test
- Chest X-ray
- Diagnostic catheterization
- Ejection fraction (EF) to determine the amount of blood the heart can pump with each beat
- Electrocardiogram (EKG)
- Stress test
Heart Failure Treatment
Treatment for heart failure depends on its severity.
Early stages of heart failure may require treatments such as lifestyle changes, treatment of the underlying conditions (high blood pressure, diabetes) and possibly medications.
Later, more advanced stages of heart failure require more advanced treatments. The advanced heart failure and transplant specialists at Wake Forest Baptist will work with you to develop a treatment plan. The plan may include a heart procedure such as:
Heart and Vascular Center
Wake Forest Baptist’s Heart and Vascular Center combines cardiology, cardiothoracic surgery and vascular surgery to provide a multidisciplinary team approach to patient- and family-centered care. At the Heart and Vascular Center, our philosophy is clear: patients come first. We offer the latest in technology, devices and medication combined with personalized care, to offer life-changing vascular and heart disease treatments.