Congestive heart failure, also called heart failure or cardiomyopathy, is a chronic condition in which your heart cannot pump blood as efficiently as before. It can leave your heart muscle weak and damaged, but luckily it can be managed successfully.
Most of the time, if you have heart failure, you probably have another heart condition such as a heart valve problem or a rhythm disorder. However, these symptoms can indicate congestive heart failure:
There are four stages of congestive heart failure:
Stage 1: Typically, no symptoms are present
Stage 2: Normal physical activity may cause shortness of breath or heart palpitations
Stage 3: Mild physical activity causes shortness of breath or heart palpitations
Stage 4: Any amount of activity causes symptoms - may even be present even when resting.
If you experience any signs of congestive heart failure, especially if you have another heart condition, talk to your doctor right away. The heart specialists at Banner Health can determine if your symptoms are caused by heart failure.
After a physical exam, your doctor will likely order a variety of diagnostic tests to get a full picture of what is happening with your heart. These tests may include:
Our heart specialists treat heart failure with medication, such as beta-blockers or nitrates, or with a variety of medical and surgical procedures. We’ll also work with you to adopt lifestyle changes and develop a congestive heart failure action plan so you can better manage your condition and improve your heart health. While congestive heart failure is not curable, early detection and treatment can improve a patient’s life expectancy.
Medical procedures to help your heart stay strong longer, include:
Your doctor may choose one or a combination of treatments to get the best results tailored to your needs. At Banner Health, you have a wide range of treatments available and, with our focus on research, some of the most advanced options for your care.
If you can’t have a heart transplant or if you are awaiting a heart transplant, you may qualify for a left ventricular assist device (LVAD) placement or a total artificial heart (TAH). Both of these devices can be used as either a bridge-to-transplant therapy – an assist for the heart until a transplant can occur, or as a destination therapy – a long-term option for patients who are not candidates for a transplant.
The LVAD works by helping your heart pump and circulate blood mechanically. This takes the pressure off your heart, so you feel less tired, have fewer symptoms and breathe easier. We implant the LVAD into your heart and activate it by an attached controller that stays outside of your body.
Like a LVAD, a TAH is also controlled by a power source outside your body. It replaces the heart’s ventricles and pumps blood to and from the heart.
Your doctor will determine whether or not an LVAD or TAH is an appropriate treatment option for you based on your specific health needs and conditions.
Adopting a healthy lifestyle is the best way to prevent heart failure. If you do experience heart failure, you can also prevent further weakness by taking these steps:
At Banner Health, we want you to live as long and healthy a life as possible. We offer education and support through our cardiac rehabilitation program, heart-healthy classes and support groups. Talk to your doctor about getting the support you or your family needs.