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Home > Medical Services > Penn Heart and Vascular > Care of Your Heart > Heart Failure

Heart Failure

Heart failure is a condition that means your heart is not pumping adequate amounts of blood throughout the body. It does not mean your heart has stopped. Having heart failure can affect the left or right side of the heart or both sides. You can feel tired, weak and/or short of breath. In addition, you can have swelling, or fluid build-up in your legs, feet, abdomen, and lungs.

There are two types of heart failure, systolic and diastolic. Systolic heart failure occurs when the heart does not contract (squeeze) strongly enough. Diastolic heart failure occurs when the heart does not relax properly so less blood enters the heart in between beats. Ejection Fraction ("EF") is an important measurement of how healthy the pumping function of the heart is. It is the amount of blood your heart pumps out of the left ventricle with each heart beat. A normal EF is usually greater that 50. Your EF can be measured using several tests such as an echocardiogram, stress test, heart catheterization, or CT angiogram.

Please ask your nurse if you would like additional information on heart failure or your ejection fraction. You may also call to speak with our Cardiovascular Nurse Educator @ 610-738-2583.

Last Updated: 7/19/2011