Congestive Heart Failure (cont.)
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More Congestive Heart Failure Overview
Systolic heart failure: This condition occurs when the pumping action of the heart is reduced or weakened. A common clinical measurement is ejection fraction (EF). The ejection fraction is a calculation of how much blood is ejected out of the left ventricle (stroke volume) divided by the maximum volume remaining in the left ventricle at the end of diastole, or when the heart is relaxed after filling with blood. A normal ejection fraction is greater than 55%. Systolic heart failure is diagnosed when the ejection fraction has significantly decreased below the threshold of 55%.
Diastolic heart failure: This condition occurs when the heart can contract normally but is stiff, or less compliant, when it is relaxing and filling with blood. The heart is unable to fill with blood properly, which produces backup into the lungs and heart failure symptoms. Diastolic heart failure is more common in patients older than 75 years of age, especially in patients with high blood pressure, and it is also more common in women. In diastolic heart failure, the ejection fraction is normal or increased.
Heart failure affects 2% of the adult population. In the United States, nearly four million people have heart failure. Each year about 550,000 new cases are diagnosed. The condition is more common among African Americans than Caucasians.
Terrence X O'Brien, MD, FACC
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Heart failure is the pathophysiologic state in which the heart, via an abnormality of cardiac function (detectable or not), fails to pump blood at a rate commensurate with the requirements of the metabolizing tissues and/or pumps only from an abnormally elevated diastolic filling pressure.