Frequently asked questions about Heart failure

When discussing with your doctor, you may want to use this document to help guide the conversation

When discussing with your doctor, you can guide the conversation with this document.

When discussing with your doctor, you may want to use this document to help guide the conversation


To consult with your doctor, you can guide the conversation with this document:

Find here the answer to the most frequently asked questions about Heart failure.


Getting to know heart failure

To detect heart failure, your doctor may order one or several of the following tests:

  • Electrocardiogram (ECG)
  • Echocardiogram
  • Angiography
  • Electrophysiology Studies (EPS)

Your doctor may also track your ejection fraction over the time that is pumped out during each beat, it is the percentage of blood that is pumped out of the heart during each beat, a key indicator of the heart’s health and doctors frequently use it to determine how well your heart is functioning as a pump.

Heart failure (HF) must be treated by a Cardiologist or Internist.

If you have heart failure, your prognosis depends on the cause and severity, your overall health, and other factors, such as your age. Complications may be as follows:

  • Kidney damage or failure. Heart failure can reduce blood flow to the kidneys, which can eventually lead to kidney failure if left untreated. Kidney damage from heart failure may require dialysis as a treatment.
  • Heart valve problems. Heart valves, which keep blood flowing in the right direction in this organ, may not function properly if the heart is enlarged or if the pressure in the heart is too high due to heart failure.
  • Heart rhythm problems. Heart rhythm problems (arrhythmias) can be a possible complication of heart failure.
  • Liver damage. Heart failure can cause a buildup of fluid that puts too much pressure on the liver. This buildup of fluid can create scarring, making it more difficult for the liver to work properly.

Lifestyle changes:

Your doctor may recommend lifestyle changes such as quitting smoking, limiting your sodium intake, losing weight, or reducing your stress level. These changes can help relieve some of the symptoms associated with heart failure and reduce strain on your heart.

Heart medications: Many kinds of medications are used for treating heart failure. Your doctor may prescribe Angiotensin Converting Enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, beta-blockers, blood thinners, and diuretics, among others. In general, a combination of these medications is typically used.

Cardiac Resynchronization Therapy (CRT): CRT is a clinically proven treatment option for some individuals with heart failure. A pacemaker or cardiac device for CRT sends small electrical impulses to both lower chambers of the heart to help them beat together in a more synchronized pattern. This may help to improve the heart’s efficiency to pump.

Heart surgery: If your heart failure is caused or made worse by a weak valve, your doctor may consider heart surgery to repair or replace the valve. If your heart failure is serious and irreversible, heart transplant surgery may be considered.

Talk to your doctor about which treatment options are right for you.

Implantable devices

A CRT device sends small undetectable electrical impulses to the two lower chambers of the heart to help them beat together with a more synchronized pattern. This improves the heart’s capacity to pump blood and oxygen throughout your body.

Typically, the procedure to implant a cardiac device is performed under local anesthesia. It does not require open-heart surgery and many patients return home within 24 hours. Your doctor will give you more detailed information, but most patients can expect to gradually resume their daily activities shortly after the procedure.

Experiencing an electric shock from a CRT (cardiac resynchronization therapy) device that contains an implantable defibrillator (CRT-D) can be a concern for many patients. The electric shock will most likely take you by surprise.

After the electric shock occurs, you may feel good or you may feel dizzy, nauseous, or disoriented. It’s important to talk to your doctor and prepare a plan so you know exactly what to do when you experience an electric shock. Your doctor may want you to call her/him or make an appointment after you’ve had an electric shock.

In general, you may notice a small lump under the skin where the device was implanted.

An implantable cardiac device allows many patients to perform the activities they enjoy. Your doctor will have more information about activities you may need to avoid.

If your CRT (cardiac resynchronization therapy) device contains an implantable defibrillator (CRT-D), this may include activities where a few seconds of loss of consciousness could be dangerous to you or others. However, most people resume their daily activities after full recovery from surgery.

Yes. When talking on a cell phone keep the phone’s antenna six inches/15 cm away from your device and use the phone on the ear opposite the device. We also recommend you avoid placing the cell phone in a pocket near the implantable cardiac device.

Yes. Most household appliances are safe to use as long as they are properly maintained and in good working order. This includes microwave ovens, major appliances, electric blankets, and heating pads.

Products that contain magnets, such as magnetic therapy products, stereo speakers, and hand-held massagers can temporarily affect the operation of the implantable cardiac device. Therefore, it is recommended you keep items containing magnets at least six inches away from the cardiac device. We do not recommend the use of magnetic mattress pads and pillows because it is difficult to maintain a six-inch distance when using these items.

Given the short duration of security screening, it is unlikely that your implantable heart device will be affected by metal detectors or full body imaging scanners such as those found in airports. To minimize the risk of temporary interference with your device while going through the security screening process, avoid touching metal surfaces around any screening equipment. Do not stop or linger in a walk-through archway; simply walk through the archway at a normal pace. If a hand-held wand is used, ask the security operator not to hold it over your implantable cardiac device and not to wave it back and forth over your implantable cardiac device.

You may also request a hand search as an alternative. If you have concerns about these security screening methods, show your device identification card and follow the instructions of the security personnel.

Before undergoing any medical procedure, always tell your doctor, dentist or technician that you have an implantable heart device. They may need to talk to your cardiologist before performing the procedure. Some procedures could potentially affect the function of your cardiac device, and such procedures may require precautionary measures to prevent or minimize any impact on you or your device.

If you have any further questions, please also visit this site: Heart Device Answers

When discussing with your doctor, you may want to use this document to help guide the conversation

When discussing with your doctor, you may want to use this document to help guide the conversation