Heart Failure

Heart failure refers to the heart failing to pump efficiently.  Many diseases may lead to heart failure, including coronary artery disease, high blood pressure, viral infections, alcohol, and heart valve diseases. 
 
When the heart pump is inefficient, a number of symptoms occur depending on its cause and severity.  Main symptoms include tiredness, breathlessness on exertion or lying flat, and ankle swelling.  Fluid retention in the feet or lungs may result from a poorly functioning heart pump. Oedema is the technical term for such fluid retention. 
 
Tests looking for possible causes of heart failure include:
·         Chest X-ray
·         Electrocardiogram (ECG)
·         Echocardiogram (Cardiac ultrasound)
·         Angiogram
 
Treatment of heart failure
Medications are key. These may be started and monitored by both your cardiologist and GP.  These include medication to control the amount of fluid that builds up (diuretics), medication to protect your heart pump, as well as medications to thin your blood. 
 
You may be referred to a dietician or given advice about restricting the amount of fluid and salt you take as this can contribute to symptoms. You can also be involved in cardiac rehabilitation programmes run by trained physiotherapists.  You will be given reading material to learn more about your disease.
 
Your cardiologist and your GP usually work together closely to treat heart failure. 

This page was last updated at 12:44PM on April 28, 2020.