Heart Failure

Helping you live longer and healthier

Your multidisciplinary care team will create a highly individualized treatment plan that includes educational and counseling services and adapts to reflect your changing needs.

Find a Provider
Location Finder

Smiling technician performing ultrasound on a patient

What is heart failure?

Heart failure occurs when your heart is weakened to the point where it can no longer pump enough blood to meet your energy needs.  

Although it can develop suddenly, it is a progressive disease, so symptoms typically build gradually over time. The sooner you take steps to address heart failure, the more like you'll be able to limit treatment to lifestyle changes and medication instead of surgical intervention.

What causes congestive heart failure?

Congestive heart failure, or CHF, occurs when lowered blood flow leads to swelling (edema), often in the extremities. This can also affect your lungs (pulmonary edema) and other tissues. 

Other types of heart failure

In addition to CHF, there are three other types of heart failure:

  • Left-side heart failure with reduced ejection fraction (HFrEF): The left ventricle can't pump hard enough to circulate blood through your body (systolic failure).
  • Left side heart failure with preserved ejection fraction (HFpEF): The left ventricle stiffens and can't properly refill with blood between heartbeats (diastolic failure).
  • Right side heart failure: The right ventricle can't pump hard enough to circulate de-oxygenated blood back to your lungs.  

Risk factors for heart failure

A family history of heart failure increases your risk of developing it. Age alone isn't a risk factor, but it's more commonly seen in older adults (age 65+).

Risk factors for heart failure that can be controlled include:

  • Coronary artery disease
  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure (hypertension)
  • Obesity and inactivity
  • Smoking or significant second-hand smoke exposure

Other issues that may increase your risk of developing heart failure include:

Heart failure symptoms

Not everyone has signs and symptoms of heart failure. When they occur, they can vary in duration and intensity. Your symptoms may include:

  • Arrhythmia or palpitations
  • Fatigue
  • Leg weakness when active
  • Shortness of breath
  • Stomach issues (bloating, nausea)
  • Swelling (edema) in ankles, legs or abdomen
  • Unexplained dry cough
  • Unexplained weight gain
  • Waking to urinate in the night

Heart failure diagnosis

After evaluating your family history and current lifestyle, your primary care provider may refer you to a cardiologist to determine the necessary tests. These can include one or more of the following:

  • Angiograms (X-ray, MRI)
  • Blood tests
  • Echocardiogram (ECG)
  • Electrocardiogram (EKG)
  • Multigated acquisition (MUGA) nuclear scan
  • Stress test (physical or pharmacological)

Heart Failure Treatment

Treatments for Advanced Heart Failure

Closeup of a cardio monitor

Mechanical circulatory support

We can help some patients with advanced heart failure, including HFrEF and candidates for durable ventricle assist devices (VADs) or heart transplants, if they do not have the following conditions:

  • A history of noncompliance, or ignoring your care team’s prescribed therapies
  • Irreversible advanced/end stage disease in other organs, unless they are potential candidates for dual organ transplant
  • Other terminal illness, such as metastatic cancer
  • Active use of cocaine or other drugs
  • Severe untreated or uncontrolled psychiatric disorders
  • Dementia or other debilitating neurologic disorders
  • Advanced age (more than 80 years old)
  • Active systemic infection
  • Other condition that would significantly limit quality and/or quantity of life even if heart failure was corrected