Advanced Heart Failure
What is advanced heart failure?
Advanced heart failure is the last stage of the heart failure, the progressive
wearing out of the heart muscle. As the heart ages, the atria and ventricles,
the four chambers of the heart, weaken and are unable to pump enough blood
to cells in the body.
What causes advanced heart failure?
Heart failure is a progressive disease caused by trauma to the heart, like
a heart attack. Aging and high blood pressure are also contributing factors.
Advanced heart failure is simply a later stage in heart failure.
What are the symptoms of advanced heart failure?
Patients in advanced heart failure experience a marked decrease in functionality
when doing simple tasks requiring movement like walking short distances
or bending over. Advanced heart failure is also indicated by an increase
in severity of the symptoms of heart failure. These patients often experience
discomfort even while at rest.
How is advanced heart failure diagnosed?
Diagnosis of advanced heart failure requires assessment from a physician
according to the industry standard, the New York Heart Association’s
heart failure classification scale. Your physician will determine the
severity of your symptoms on a scale of one to four, four being advanced
heart failure. The NYHA scale lists symptoms of stage four hear failure
as follows: “Unable to carry on any physical activity without discomfort.
Symptoms of heart failure at rest. If any physical activity is undertaken,
If your symptoms fit these criteria your physician may perform one or all
of several different tests to determine the progression of your condition.
- Chest x-rays show the size of your heart and your doctor may compare it
to earlier x-rays to see if the heart has enlarged, an indicator of advancing
heart failure. Your doctor will also look for congestion in the lungs.
- Cardiac magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) can provide your physician a detailed
look at your heart. He or she will be able to determine size and thickness
of the heart and its tissue.
- An electrocardiogram or EKG, will help your physician locate signs of a
heart attack, record any abnormal rhythms and show if the heart muscle
wall is thickened, all of which contribute to advanced heart failure.
- An echocardiogram is an ultrasound performed on the chest and shows the
physician the thickness of the heart walls and how well the heart is pumping.
How is advanced heart failure treated?
While earlier stages of heart disease can be treated with medication, advanced
heart failure requires more invasive procedures for treatment. There is
no cure for advanced heart failure but, patients can prolong their lives
through various surgical and non-surgical techniques and technologies
depending on your needs and lifestyle goals.
Some types of Heart Failure can be improved by pacemakers which enhance
the timing and vigor of the way the heart beats. Some can correct lethal
arrhythmias which are more common in Heart Failure. These and other devices
are being used more commonly in the treatment of Heart Failure.
*Information from the American Heart Association