A healthy heart pumps well. If you have heart failure, your heart muscle does not pump as much blood as your body needs. Certain conditions, such as coronary artery disease, high blood pressure, heart valve abnormalities, or damage to the heart muscle (cardiomyopathy) can make your heart weaker.
What are the symptoms of heart failure?
In the early stages of heart failure, you may:
- Tire easily.
- Be short of breath when you exert yourself.
- Feel like your heart is pounding or racing (palpitations).
- Feel weak or dizzy.
As heart failure progresses, fluid starts to build up in your lungs and other parts of your body. This can cause you to:
- Feel short of breath, even when resting.
- Have swelling (edema), especially in your legs, ankles and feet.
- Gain weight.
- Cough or wheeze, especially when you lie down.
- Need to urinate more at night.
- Feel bloated or nauseated.
How is heart failure diagnosed?
Tests to diagnose heart failure can include blood tests, a chest X-ray, an electrocardiogram (EKG or ECG), an echocardiogram (heart ultrasound), cardiac catheterization or a stress test.
What are treatments for heart failure?
Not all conditions that lead to heart failure can be reversed, but treatments can help you feel better and live longer. Treatments may include medications, a pacemaker or defibrillator, and lifestyle changes, which include exercising, reducing salt or sodium intake, and losing weight.
The MU Heart and Vascular Center’s heart failure team can help guide you through treatment. Cristina Danila, MD, a cardiologist, is specially trained to care for patients with heart failure. She and Tiffany Meller, APRN, an advanced practice nurse, listen to patients and families and help guide patients through the best options to meet their needs.
For more information or to schedule an appointment with one of our specialists, please contact Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine at 573-88-HEART or 573-884-3278.