Heart Failure

Dr. Alrich L. Gray // Central Montana Heart & Vascular Institute

Heart Failure

Heart failure occurs when the heart has sustained damage or stress over time, and that damage leaves the heart functioning inefficiently. During heart failure, the heart muscle may be too stiff or weak to pump enough blood around the body. In some cases, the heart may try to overcompensate for this weakness by beating a lot faster to move enough blood around the body. Heart failure may result in symptoms of:

  • Fatigue or weakness
  • Swelling in your abdomen, legs, ankles, or feet
  • Shortness of breath
  • Decreased alertness
  • Fluid retention
  • Nausea
  • Chest pain

To treat heart failure, your doctor may prescribe you medications including beta blockers, ACE inhibitors, and diuretics (water pills). The medications he may prescribe will aim to reduce the workload on your heart, lower blood pressure, and improve blood flow. In some cases, your doctor may recommend implanting a pacing device, such as a biventricular pacemaker or an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD). A biventricular pacemaker sends electrical impulses to both the left and right sides of the heart so they pump in a coordinated and timely manner. An ICD will monitor your heart’s rhythm and will send an impulse to your heart if it detects an abnormal or dangerous rhythm.