Congestive Heart Failure

Heart failure occurs when the conditions that have affected your heart — such as high blood pressure or narrowing and hardening of the arteries — make it difficult for the heart to operate normally. The combination of these things take place over a period of time and can affect quality of life.

Diagnostics to detect congestive heart failure include:

Blood tests — Other diseases can affect your heart, and blood tests can determine if you have developed conditions that affect your heart’s performance.

Electrocardiogram (EKG) — Electrical pulses generated by your heart are measured and evaluated to determine if there are any anomalies or unusual conditions present.

Chest X-ray — A standard test that can see if there is deposit or fluid buildup in or around your heart. A chest X-ray can detect anomalies such as an enlarged heart or improperly formed valves.

Echocardiogram — Sound waves are directed to your heart through a device that is held up to your chest. The sound waves cause a pattern that allows the physician to see if valves and other parts of the heart are operating properly.

Ejection fraction — This test, performed by a physician during tests such as an ultrasound, MRI, CT, or cardiac catheterization, measures how your heart pumps blood by measuring the blood pumped out of the left ventricle of the heart every time your heart contracts.

Stress test — Measurement of your heart signals and blood pressure during exercise (while walking on a treadmill). The test may include pictures being taken of your heart while you are at rest and after you have exercised.

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) — A combination of a magnetic field and radio waves creates three-dimensional images of your heart and other parts of your body to determine if disease or physical anomalies are present.

Cardiac computerized tomography (CT) — A scan is taken of your heart using computer processed X-rays generated in “slices” for image accuracy.

Cardiac catheterization — A liquid dye is injected through a narrow tube  (catheter) into an artery leading to the heart to allow special pictures to be taken to see if there are blockages or narrowed arteries that could pose a health threat.

Procedures to treat congestive heart failure include:

Coronary bypass surgery — During this procedure, the flow of blood to the heart is redirected, bypassing the blocked areas. This procedure can be performed in the traditional manner — using “open” surgery — or using minimally invasive techniques

Heart valve repair or replacement — The diseased valve is either repaired or removed and replaced with a tissue valve or mechanical valve.

Implantable cardioverter-defibrillators (ICDs) — This device is designed to shock your heart back into a normal sinus rhythm when it is beating irregularly or too slowly.

Biventricular pacemakers — Devices that keep your heart beating at a normal, healthy pace. They are easily surgically implanted.

Regardless of your specific treatment options, our dedicated team can support you or your loved one after a heart failure diagnosis and help you make healthy lifestyle adjustments. Download our Living with Heart Failure guide for educational information, tips and tools so you can live well with your condition. 

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