What Is Systolic Heart Failure?
Systolic heart failure refers to a weakened or enlarged left ventricle — the heart chamber that sends oxygen-rich blood out to the rest of the body. The muscle isn’t pumping as forcefully as it should. The body isn’t getting enough oxygen while blood and other fluids back up in the body.
A clinical measure of systolic heart failure is reduced ejection fraction. Ejection fraction refers to how much blood the left ventricle pumps out. A normal ejection fraction is more than 55%. With systolic heart failure, the left ventricle’s ejection fraction is lower.
High blood pressure (systolic is the top number) can slowly cause the heart muscle walls to thin so they do not pump well.
More patients with systolic heart failure and other heart conditions entrust their care to Norton Heart & Vascular Institute than any other provider in the Louisville and Southern Indiana area. Our board-certified and fellowship-trained cardiologists and other specialists in the Advanced Heart Failure and Recovery Program are at the leading edge of advanced treatments for systolic heart failure.
Systolic Heart Failure Symptoms
Acute systolic heart failure describes symptoms that come on suddenly. Chronic systolic heart failure symptoms develop gradually over time.
The outward symptoms of systolic heart failure and diastolic heart failure are the same. Symptoms can include:
- Brain fog — difficulty concentrating or staying alert
- Fluid collection in the abdomen
- Heart palpitations
- Nausea and lack of appetite
- Persistent cough, wheezing
- Reduced exercise tolerance
- Shortness of breath either while lying down or active
- Swelling in the legs and ankles, possibly with sudden weight gain
Systolic Heart Failure Treatment
Every case of systolic heart failure is unique and complex. The specialists at the Advanced Heart Failure and Recovery Program will work with you to develop a customized treatment plan aimed at relieving symptoms and slowing the disease’s progress.
With expertise and leading-edge treatments, we’ll plot a course to help restore your quality of life.
Systolic heart failure treatment through the Advanced Heart Failure and Recovery Program includes lifestyle and dietary changes, medication to control blood pressure and heart rate, and diuretics to reduce fluid retention.
Patients with systolic heart failure often have coronary artery disease as well, and our cardiologists may recommend surgery or minimally invasive procedures to remove built-up plaque in the blood vessels.
Our full-time nurse navigator meets with patients to provide details of their condition, answer any questions and review dietary adjustments, physical therapy and other changes to slow the progress of systolic heart failure.
The nurse navigator will arrange for home health services, acute rehabilitation services and other assistance for patients so they can be successful managing their disease at home and reduce the need for hospital stays.
The Advanced Heart Failure and Recovery Program’s full-time social worker helps patients with insurance, housing and other needs. Heart failure workshops are designed to provide tools, resources and a more in-depth education on how to live fully with heart failure.
Beta-blockers, ACE inhibitors, and angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs) are options to treat the hypertension that comes with systolic heart failure. Medication may be used to reduce congestion in the lungs. We’ve seen certain hydra-nitrate medications provide significant benefits in African American patients with persistent symptoms.
Cardioverter defibrillators are used to detect dangerous changes in heart rhythm and deliver a shock to the heart to reset the beat. These devices often are implanted, and we offer a wearable defibrillator (LifeVest) as an option for many.
Because subtle changes in systolic heart failure can signal need for new or adjusted treatments, some patients may have a tiny monitor installed in a blood vessel to detect changes in blood flow. The device, called CardioMEMS, sends data wirelessly to the Advanced Heart Failure and Recovery Program. The device allows providers to evaluate the patient’s condition immediately without a trip to the doctor’s office.