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Determining Your Prognosis With Heart Failure


Determining Your Prognosis With Heart Failure

Your prognosis is the expected outcome of your disease. The prognoses of people with heart failure can vary a lot. Several things help your doctor estimate your prognosis.

The severity of your symptoms. The New York Heart Association criteria classify the disease based on symptoms.

Your overall heart function. The ejection fraction of your left ventricle is an important indicator of your prognosis. The more severely damaged your heart muscle is, the worse your ejection fraction might be.

The cause of your heart failure. Some people have heart failure as the result of another health problem that can be treated.. For example, heart failure can be caused by an overactive or underactive thyroid gland, anemia, or vitamin deficiencies. Or it may be caused by a heart valve problem such as aortic valve stenosis or mitral valve regurgitation. If these problems can be treated, the treatment may stop the progression of heart failure before permanent damage happens.

Heart failure associated with alcohol use or pregnancy may spontaneously resolve itself over time. People with heart failure caused by severe high blood pressure (hypertension) may see considerable improvement of their symptoms when they control their hypertension.

Many people who have heart failure also have other heart problems. These problems make treating heart failure harder. For example, someone with heart failure may also have coronary artery disease and need treatment for both problems.

How long you've had heart failure. If you have had heart failure symptoms for a short period of time and you receive aggressive treatment, you are more likely to have improved heart function than people with a long history of symptoms. Although there is no specific length of time after which your heart function is unlikely to improve, the longer you have had heart failure, the less likely it is that your heart function may improve significantly even with appropriate treatment.

Compensatory factors. As heart failure gets worse, the body makes various adjustments—referred to as "compensatory factors"—to correct the effects of heart failure on other organs. One such compensatory factor is an increase in various hormone levels, including renin, aldosterone, norepinephrine, atrial natriuretic peptide, and prostaglandins. Your doctor can measure the amount of these hormones in your blood and the amount of sodium in your blood. Increases of these hormones and decreases in sodium can point to severe heart failure. Increases in these hormonal factors and other compensatory factors often make heart failure worse over time.

Credits

ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerE. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical ReviewerRobert A. Kloner, MD, PhD - Cardiology
Last RevisedAugust 5, 2010

eMedicineHealth Medical Reference from Healthwise

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