What is heart failure?
Heart failure affects about five million adults in the United States. Heart failure, sometimes called congestive heart failure, is a condition in which the heart cannot pump enough oxygenated blood to meet the needs of the body’s other organs. With this condition, the heart isn’t keeping up with the demands of the body at rest and at exercise.
Heart Failure Symptoms
- Shortness of breath
- Weight gain
- Swelling of the lower extremities
- Exercise intolerance
- Loss of appetite
Congestive Heart Failure Causes
Many conditions that cause your heart to fail result in irreversible damage and, in some cases, may necessitate a heart transplant or mechanical cardiac support. Congestive heart failure is usually a sign of an underlying heart problem. In addition to affecting the heart's pumping efficiency, it interferes with normal kidney function. When the kidneys cannot properly eliminate sodium and waste from the body, the body retains excess fluid. There are also genetic components, or familial cardiomyopathy, this is why family genetics are very important.
Diagnosing Congestive Heart Failure
Ohio State's Heart and Vascular Center treats more than 2,000 heart failure patients each year. Our team collaborates on each patient's case to determine the best course of treatment.
Tests to diagnose congestive heart failure at Ohio State include:
- Chest X-Ray: A chest x-ray or radiograph is a picture of the heart and lungs including blood vessels, ribs and bones of the spine
- Echocardiogram: Also called echo, this test uses sound waves to assess the function and structure of the heart muscle and valves
- Electrocardiogram: A test that records the electrical activity of the heart
- B-Type Natriuretic Peptide (BNP) Testing: This test detects a hormone released from the ventricles in response to increased wall tension that occurs with heart failure
Heart Failure Treatment
Treatment for congestive heart failure depends on the cause of the disease. Your doctor will decide which is right for you.
Treatment with medications
- Angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors
- Antiarrhythmic medications
- Aldosterone blockers
Other medications prescribed to increase heart strength, control rhythm problems and increase pumping action.
Treatment with Surgery
Surgery and procedures include:
Why Choose Ohio State For Heart Failure Care?
Ohio State’s Heart and Vascular Center has the most extensive congestive heart failure treatment program in central Ohio, treating more than 2,000 heart failure patients each year. At Ohio State, your care is managed by a multidisciplinary team of heart specialists and nurse practitioners who work in collaboration with nurses, pharmacists, social workers, dietitians and heart surgeons to provide both routine care and advanced treatment options not found elsewhere in central Ohio.
At Ohio State, you can keep your care local in Columbus throughout the entire spectrum of treating your condition. You don't have to travel great distances for your regular appointments, advanced procedures or follow-up care. Plus, Ohio State is home to the Frick Center for Heart Failure and Arrhythmia, the first center of its kind in the nation treating patients who suffer from the complexities of both heart failure and heart arrhythmia.
Our approach to treatment is to start with the simplest, least invasive steps, such as medication, lifestyle changes and sleep apnea evaluation. If symptoms persist, we move up to more invasive procedures only as you need it. For those requiring advanced treatment, we are the only program in the region performing implantation of artificial heart pumps, ventricular assist devices (VADs) and heart transplantation. We completed our first heart transplant in 1986. With more nearly 500 heart transplants since then, our program remains central Ohio’s only adult heart transplant program. In addition, Ohio State was the fourth institution in the country certified to implant the temporary CardioWest™ Total Artificial Heart, which serves as a bridge to transplant for the most critically ill patients.
Patients at Ohio State are often the first to benefit from heart and vascular research done right here. If you have already been diagnosed with congestive heart failure and are looking for a second opinion, our heart experts may be able to help. Ohio State is home to a team leading the research and clinical trials to improve treatment of heart failure that may not be available elsewhere.
Resources for Patients
This series of videos provides education and helpful information for people diagnosed with congestive heart failure.