Systolic Heart Failure

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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
  • Fatigue
  • 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.

Heart and Vascular Care for the Whole Person

Norton Heart & Vascular Institute offers patient resources to support you and your family, including free classes for people of all ages who are seeking to improve cardiovascular health or living with a heart condition.

Cardiac Rehabilitation Program

Our cardiac rehabilitation providers are leaders in developing and applying innovative techniques that can help you recover and resume your life.

Connecting Hearts Support Group

The group provides education and support to individuals who have had a heart attack, are living with a heart condition or are at risk for cardiovascular disease.

Heart Health Screenings

Prevention is the best way to manage heart disease, and screenings are available to detect early signs of cardiac and vascular disease and identify risk factors.

About Norton Heart & Vascular Institute

Every year, more than 137,000 people in Louisville and Southern Indiana choose Norton Heart & Vascular Institute specialists for their heart and vascular care. That’s more than any other health care provider.

  • Norton Healthcare’s adult-service hospitals in Louisville all have received Chest Pain Center accreditation from the American College of Cardiology (ACC). This is the seventh consecutive accreditation for all four hospitals, which ensures quality for the treatment of heart attack.
  • Norton Audubon Hospital, Norton Brownsboro Hospital and Norton Hospital all are recognized as having ACC Chest Pain Center with Primary PCI accreditation.
  • Norton Healthcare has the most facilities across the city of Louisville with the ability treat a life-threatening heart attack.
  • You have access to more than 100 physicians and advanced practice providers with specialized training and experience in a comprehensive range of conditions and treatments.
  • Patients can make appointments at 28 locations in Louisville and Southern Indiana. Telecardiology is offered at more than 30 sites in the region.
  • Norton Audubon Hospital, a key location for Norton Heart & Vascular Institute services, has been recognized with a HeartCare Center National Distinction of Excellence year after year by the American College of Cardiology. This is the only hospital in Louisville to be recognized for this distinction.
  • U.S. News & World Report 2023-24 Best Hospitals ranked Norton Healthcare’s adult-service hospitals in Louisville as high performing in heart attack, heart failure, aortic valve surgery and heart bypass surgery.
  • Norton Audubon Hospital earned ventricular assist device (VAD) accreditation from DNV – Healthcare and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.
  • Communicate with your health care provider, renew prescriptions, get lab results and more through your free Norton MyChart account.

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