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In early heart failure stages, the disease is most curable. If the disease progresses to later stages, treatment shifts to slowing progression and easing symptoms. There are four stages of heart failure ranging from symptomless to shortness of breath even while resting and other symptoms.
If you’re heart isn’t pumping enough oxygen-rich blood, you may develop shortness of breath as your lungs try to capture more oxygen. Your lower limbs may swell as blood isn’t pushed through the heart efficiently, and fluid backs up. You may feel angina — chest pain or discomfort — because the heart itself isn’t being replenished with oxygen.
The heart failure stages are marked by the severity of symptoms and, each stage has specific treatment options.
The Norton Heart & Vascular Institute Advanced Heart Failure & Recovery Program’s team of board-certified and fellowship-trained physicians and advanced practice providers has the experience and expertise to diagnose the progress of your heart failure and provide a comprehensive range of treatment.
Our goal will be to halt, slow or even reverse the progression of your heart failure and improve your quality of life. For some, heart failure can be reversed, with the heart muscle returning to a healthy structure and resuming effective pumping.
At this point you are at high risk for heart failure, but you don’t have any symptoms and the structure of your heart hasn’t changed.
Risks include a family history of heart failure or conditions such as hypertension (high blood pressure), diabetes, rheumatic fever, alcohol abuse or medications that can damage the heart muscle.
At this heart failure stage, you may have mild shortness of breath and/or angina. This usually will be revealed in an echocardiogram that shows a weakened left ventricle that pumps about 40% or less of the blood in your heart. The measure, called ejection fraction, is normally about 55% or higher.
At this stage, your activity has been severely limited by symptoms such as wheezing, fatigue, nausea, increased nighttime urination, shortness of breath, swollen legs, ankles and feet.
At this stage of heart failure, you are very limited in movement and spend large amounts of time in bed. At this point, you have undergone recurrent hospitalizations despite medical treatment.
Heart failure can strike anyone at any age. African Americans are more likely to develop heart failure at a younger age and with greater severity than other groups.
Monitoring your blood pressure and adopting healthy lifestyle habits, including quitting smoking, are some of the steps you can take to reduce your chances of developing heart failure.
In its early stages, heart failure can have the following symptoms. If you have any of these symptoms, you may or may not be developing heart failure. Discuss your symptoms with your primary care provider.
In cases where other treatments have failed and symptoms have left you unable to perform daily tasks, we have treatments that can restore much of your quality of life. Advanced heart failure used to be called “end-stage heart failure,” but such a label doesn’t reflect the reason for hope with new treatments.
More aggressive medication, ventricular assist devices or heart transplant are ways to slow the progress of advanced heart failure and alleviate symptoms.
In addition to the common symptoms of heart failure, the condition is considered advanced when medication and other treatments improve symptoms.
Characteristics of advanced heart failure include:
If you have advanced heart failure, the range of treatments to slow the progress of your disease is expanding rapidly.
The Norton Heart & Vascular Institute Advanced Heart Failure & Recovery Program offers a new way to look at the management of heart failure. Treatment options for advanced heart failure include:
Heart failure can start with no symptoms, but a risk of developing the disease. The structure of the heart hasn’t changed — a thickened heart muscle, for instance. At this point, the primary treatment is to reduce risk with lifestyle changes and treating conditions such as high blood pressure that may be contributing to the risk.If heart.failure advances, heart failure symptoms develop or worsen. Treatment needs to get more aggressive with each stage.
Shortness of breath typically starts with stage B heart failure. Angina –— chest pain — also may develop as oxygen levels feeding the heart decline.Treatment shortly after symptoms start offers the best chance of curing and reversing heart failure. In cases where heart failure was diagnosed early and wasn’t accompanied by heart attack or other heart disease, Norton Heart & Vascular Institute has cured about 50% of cases. That compares with a national benchmark of 10%.
People are living longer with end-stage, or advanced heart failure, than ever before. Advances in medication and use of devices such as ventricular assist devices has allowed more and more patients to live better lives with improved symptoms.
Yes. Medication regimens used at the Norton Heart & Vascular Institute Advanced Heart Failure & Recovery Program can cure the disease, reversing its effects, if diagnosed early and shortly after symptoms start.
Life expectancy for all stages of heart failure has improved in recent years as more patients work with specialists who monitor their condition closely and take steps to correct situations, often before the patient even notices a change. At the Norton Heart & Vascular Institute Advanced Heart Failure & Recovery Program, we’ll work to catch the slightest sign of deteriorating symptoms to prevent your condition worsening to the point that you need to spend time in the hospital.
The first signs of heart failure can include shortness of breath, swelling in the feet, ankles and lower legs, chest congestion, and fatigue.
Left untreated, heart failure can progress rapidly over the course of weeks or months. However, early treatment can cure the disease, even in those whose disease has progressed. For those with more advanced disease, life expectancy has been steadily improving, with newer treatments leading to more recovery.
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