- Heart Disease (Coronary Artery Disease) Slideshow Pictures
- Atrial Fibrillation Slideshow: Causes, Tests and Treatment
- Take the Heart Disease Quiz!
- Patient Comments: Heart Failure - Symptoms
- Patient Comments: Heart Failure - Treatments
- Find a local Cardiologist in your town
- What is Heart Failure?
- What Causes Heart Failure?
- What are the Symptoms of Heart Failure?
- What are the Types of Heart Failure?
- How is Heart Failure Diagnosed?
- How is Heart Failure Treated?
- Stages of Heart Failure
- How Can I Prevent Heart Failure From Worsening?
- How Can I Prevent Further Heart Damage?
- What Medications Should I Avoid?
- How Can I Improve My Quality of Life?
- What Surgical Procedures are Used to Treat Heart Failure?
- Treatment is a Team Effort
- What is the Outlook for People with Heart Failure?
Quick GuideA Visual Guide to Heart Disease
How Is Heart Failure Treated?
Today there are more options available for heart failure than ever before. Tight control over your medications and lifestyle coupled with careful monitoring are the first steps. As the condition progresses, doctors specializing in the treatment of heart failure can offer more advanced treatment options.
The goals of treating heart failure are primarily to decrease the likelihood of disease progression (thereby decreasing the risk of death and the need for hospitalization), to lessen symptoms and to improve quality of life.
Together, you and your doctor can determine the best course of treatment for you.
Stages of Heart Failure
In 2001, the American Heart Association (AHA) and American College of Cardiology (ACC) developed the "Stages of Heart Failure." These stages, which were updated in 2005, will help you understand that heart failure is often a progressive condition and can worsen over time. They will also help you understand why a new medication was added to your treatment plan and may help you understand why lifestyle changes and other treatments are needed.
The stages classified by the AHA and ACC are different than the New York Heart Association (NYHA) clinical classifications of heart failure that rank patients as class I-II-III-IV, according to the degree of symptoms or functional limits. Ask your doctor what stage of heart failure you are in.
Check the table below to see if your therapy matches what the AHA and ACC recommend. Note that you cannot go backward in stage, only forward.
The table below outlines a basic plan of care that may or may not apply to you, based on the cause of your heart failure and your special needs. Ask your doctor to explain therapies that are listed if you do not understand why you are or are not receiving them.
Definition of Stage
People at high risk of developing heart failure (pre-heart failure), including people with:
People diagnosed with systolic left ventricular dysfunction but who have never had symptoms of heart failure (pre-heart failure), including people with:
The diagnosis is usually made when an ejection fraction of less than 40% is found during an echocardiogram test.
If appropriate, surgery options should be discussed for patients who have had a heart attack
Patients with known systolic heart failure and current or prior symptoms. Most common symptoms include:
Patients with systolic heart failure and presence of advanced symptoms after receiving optimum medical care.