Heart Failure

When heart isn't able to pump enough blood for your body’s needs, we are here to help.

Heart Failure

If you’re experiencing heart failure symptoms (such as difficulty breathing, fatigue or swelling of your legs), time is on your mind. It’s on ours, too. Nearly 4 decades of innovation have resulted in proven therapies for heart failure, which affects one in five adults age 50 and older over their lifetime.

The good news? Early diagnosis, treatment and lifestyle changes can mean a second chance for a longer, more fulfilling life. CHI Health Clinic Heart Institute's comprehensive heart failure program and team of experts offer highly specialized, proven treatments to help patients with heart failure get back to the life they love.

What is Heart Failure?

Heart failure is a chronic, progressive condition that means the heart isn't able to pump enough blood for your body’s needs. This causes fluid retention and congestion of the lungs or other parts of your body such as the ankles, legs and the abdomen. A diagnosis of heart failure does not mean the heart has stopped working. It does mean the heart muscle function has worsened over time.

At first, the heart tries to keep up with its workload by getting larger. The chambers change in shape, size or geometry so they can contract more strongly and pump more blood. The heart may develop more muscle mass because the contracting cells get bigger and the heart is able to pump more strongly, for a while. Blood vessels get narrower to keep blood pressure up. The body diverts blood from less important tissues and organs so it can maintain blood flow to the heart and brain. Learn more about heart failure symptoms.

The Heart Failure Management Program at CHI Health provides outpatient treatment and education to help chronic heart failure patients live longer, more rewarding lives. Intravenous therapy, monitoring and education are done in an outpatient setting to avoid hospitalization and decrease overall treatment costs. A multidisciplinary team, consisting of a physician, advanced practice providers, nurses, pharmacists, dietitians and others, participates in the care and support of the patient to obtain optimal therapy outcomes.

Patients can be confident that no matter which CHI Health hospital they choose, they will receive the same high standard of care for heart failure. Learn more about heart failure treatments.

How common is heart failure?

Approximately 6.5 million adult Americans have heart failure. Heart failure, which affects one in five adults age 50 and older over their lifetime.

What are the types of Heart Failure?

Left-Sided Heart Failure

When the heart pumps, it moves oxygen-rich blood from the lungs to the left atrium, and then into the left ventricle, which pumps it throughout the body.

Because the left ventricle provides most of the heart's pumping power, it's larger than the other chambers and vital for normal function. In left-sided or left ventricular (LV) heart failure, the left side of the heart must work harder to pump the same amount of blood.

There are two types of left-sided heart failure.

  • Heart failure with reduced ejection fraction (previously called systolic heart failure): When the heart muscle contracts or beats, it pumps blood out of the heart. In systolic failure, the left ventricle loses its ability to contract normally. The heart can't pump with enough force to push enough blood into circulation.
  • Heart failure with preserved ejection fraction (previously called diastolic heart failure): The heart relaxes between beats, allowing blood to fill up its chambers. In diastolic failure, the left ventricle loses its ability to relax normally and the muscle becomes stiff. The heart can't properly fill with blood during the resting period between each beat.

Right-Sided Heart Failure

The right side of the heart pumps "used" blood that returns to the heart through the veins through the right atrium and into the right lower chamber (ventricle). The right ventricle then pumps the blood back out of the heart into the lungs where it picks up oxygen.

Right-sided or right ventricular (RV) heart failure usually occurs as a result of left-sided failure or high pressures in the pulmonary artery that transfers the blood from the right side of the heart to the lung (pulmonary hypertension). When the left ventricle fails, increased fluid pressure is, in effect, transferred back through the lungs and can damage the heart's right side. When the right side loses pumping power, blood backs up in the body's veins. This usually causes swelling in the legs and ankles (edema).

Congestion in Heart Failure

As the heart's pumping becomes less effective, it works harder. The heart muscle becomes enlarged. The kidneys receive less blood and compensate by filtering less fluid, salt and waste out of circulation and into the urine.

Excess fluid in the blood increases the volume of blood, causing blood pressure to increase. Fluid may build up in the lungs, liver, gastrointestinal tract, and the arms and legs. This is called fluid "congestion" and for this reason doctors call this "congestive heart failure".  As blood pressure increases, it can damage the blood vessels of the heart and kidneys and those throughout the body.

Heart Failure Program Highlights

  • Guidelines Directed Medical Therapy Clinic
  • Advanced Heart Failure Clinic
  • Inherited Cardiomyopathies Clinic
  • Amyloid Cardiomyopathy Clinic
  • Inflammatory Cardiomyopathies Clinic
  • Remote Hemodynamic Monitoring Clinic
  • Outpatient Diuretic Infusion Clinic
  • Cardio-Oncology Clinic