Heart Failure

Our Heart and Vascular Care physicians are experts in diagnosing and treating this life-threatening condition

Heart failure is a life-threatening condition in which your heart cannot pump enough oxygenated blood to meet your body’s needs. 

This strains your organs and puts you at risk for kidney failure, liver failure, stroke and pulmonary edema (fluid buildup in the lungs).

Indiana University Health Heart and Vascular Care physicians have years of experience diagnosing complex heart conditions, and provide a full range of treatment options for you.

A variety of conditions cause heart failure, including:

  • High blood pressure
  • Heart valve disease
  • Heart rhythm disorders
  • Heart disease
  • Infection in the heart tissue

Heart failure does not mean your heart completely stops working, but it harms your organs and entire body because the heart muscle pumps inefficiently. When this occurs, your kidneys cannot properly rid your body of toxins and fluids, and these toxins build up in your blood, putting pressure on your other organs, preventing them from working correctly. 

Overview

Indiana University Health Heart and Vascular Care physicians have years of experience diagnosing complex heart conditions, and provide a full range of treatment options for you.

A variety of conditions cause heart failure, including:

  • High blood pressure
  • Heart valve disease
  • Heart rhythm disorders
  • Heart disease
  • Infection in the heart tissue

Heart failure does not mean your heart completely stops working, but it harms your organs and entire body because the heart muscle pumps inefficiently. When this occurs, your kidneys cannot properly rid your body of toxins and fluids, and these toxins build up in your blood, putting pressure on your other organs, preventing them from working correctly. 

IU Health Heart and Vascular Care physicians use a number of diagnostic tests and procedures to accurately diagnose heart failure including:

  • Echocardiogram. This noninvasive test uses sound waves to assess the movement of your heart muscle.
  • Chest X-ray. This imaging procedure allows physicians to see if you have fluid in your lungs or enlargement of your heart.
  • Electrocardiogram. An electrocardiogram--a noninvasive test--monitors the electrical signals in your heart. It can show if your heart has difficulty pumping blood.
  • B-tyle natriuretic peptide (BNP) blood test. BNP hormone increases in your blood when you have heart failure.

Diagnosis

IU Health Heart and Vascular Care physicians use a number of diagnostic tests and procedures to accurately diagnose heart failure including:

  • Echocardiogram. This noninvasive test uses sound waves to assess the movement of your heart muscle.
  • Chest X-ray. This imaging procedure allows physicians to see if you have fluid in your lungs or enlargement of your heart.
  • Electrocardiogram. An electrocardiogram--a noninvasive test--monitors the electrical signals in your heart. It can show if your heart has difficulty pumping blood.
  • B-tyle natriuretic peptide (BNP) blood test. BNP hormone increases in your blood when you have heart failure.

Heart failure has no cure, but advanced treatments can help you live an active life. IU Health experts offer a full range of treatment options, from advice and assistance in making appropriate lifestyle and diet changes, to medicine, and even heart transplantation. Your physician-led team will provide comprehensive care to meet your physical, social and emotional needs related to heart failure.  

From being the first private hospital in the nation to perform a heart transplant to being home to the inventor of the implantable cardioverter, Indiana University Health has long led the state in leading edge treatment of heart failure. 

IU Health physicians provide the advanced treatment services below:

  • Education. Your physicians help you make lifestyle changes to improve your heart health and slow heart failure.
  • Medicine. By using medicine to control the condition that caused your heart failure, you may slow heart failure. Other medicines allow your body to get rid of extra fluid, ease the work your heart must do to pump blood or increase the strength of the heart muscle that pumps blood.
  • Angioplasty. For angioplasty, a minimally invasive procedure, your physician removes plaque buildup in arteries or places stents to keep arteries open. This makes it easier for your heart to pump blood.
  • Heart valve replacement. If your heart cannot pump correctly due to a problem with your heart valve, your physician will replace your heart valve with a mechanical or tissue valve.
  • Implantable cardioverter. An invention of IU Health physicians, this leading edge device uses electrical pulses to regulate your heartbeat.
  • Biventricular pacing. This new type of pacemaker synchronizes both sides of your heart so that it beats more efficiently.
  • Left ventricle assist device (LVAD). Surgeons implant this device into the left side of your heart to pump blood out to the rest of your body. The device may give you long-term relief or be a temporary measure until you receive a heart transplant.
  • Heart transplant. If you require a transplant, the IU Health transplant team will be with you every step of the way, from your first appointment to caring for you after your transplant surgery.

Taking your medicines as prescribed, making lifestyle changes and recognizing changes in your health can help you manage heart failure. Your Home Care team can help you manage your care for the best possible results. Your Home Care team has an established Heart Failure Program where your nurses and other highly skilled healthcare professionals work closely with you and your physician to design a personalized home care plan based on your needs and preferences.

Services to help you manage heart failure at home include:

  • Education. Understanding the lifestyle factors that affect heart failure can help you control this condition. Your nurses, physical therapists and other professionals talk with you about diet, exercise, medications and other factors that affect your health. They help you to monitor your weight, limit salt intake, get enough rest and know when you should contact your physician. You can contact your team 24 hours a day, seven days a week to answer questions.
  • Telemonitoring. Special monitoring technology allows your physicians to keep track of your signs and symptoms remotely and detect any developing problems early. Your team provides a telemonitor to take measurements such as weight, blood pressure, heart rate, and oxygen saturation. The information reaches your physicians immediately and we call or visit regularly to discuss your health and address any questions or concerns you may have. 

Treatment

Heart failure has no cure, but advanced treatments can help you live an active life. IU Health experts offer a full range of treatment options, from advice and assistance in making appropriate lifestyle and diet changes, to medicine, and even heart transplantation. Your physician-led team will provide comprehensive care to meet your physical, social and emotional needs related to heart failure.  

From being the first private hospital in the nation to perform a heart transplant to being home to the inventor of the implantable cardioverter, Indiana University Health has long led the state in leading edge treatment of heart failure. 

IU Health physicians provide the advanced treatment services below:

  • Education. Your physicians help you make lifestyle changes to improve your heart health and slow heart failure.
  • Medicine. By using medicine to control the condition that caused your heart failure, you may slow heart failure. Other medicines allow your body to get rid of extra fluid, ease the work your heart must do to pump blood or increase the strength of the heart muscle that pumps blood.
  • Angioplasty. For angioplasty, a minimally invasive procedure, your physician removes plaque buildup in arteries or places stents to keep arteries open. This makes it easier for your heart to pump blood.
  • Heart valve replacement. If your heart cannot pump correctly due to a problem with your heart valve, your physician will replace your heart valve with a mechanical or tissue valve.
  • Implantable cardioverter. An invention of IU Health physicians, this leading edge device uses electrical pulses to regulate your heartbeat.
  • Biventricular pacing. This new type of pacemaker synchronizes both sides of your heart so that it beats more efficiently.
  • Left ventricle assist device (LVAD). Surgeons implant this device into the left side of your heart to pump blood out to the rest of your body. The device may give you long-term relief or be a temporary measure until you receive a heart transplant.
  • Heart transplant. If you require a transplant, the IU Health transplant team will be with you every step of the way, from your first appointment to caring for you after your transplant surgery.

Taking your medicines as prescribed, making lifestyle changes and recognizing changes in your health can help you manage heart failure. Your Home Care team can help you manage your care for the best possible results. Your Home Care team has an established Heart Failure Program where your nurses and other highly skilled healthcare professionals work closely with you and your physician to design a personalized home care plan based on your needs and preferences.

Services to help you manage heart failure at home include:

  • Education. Understanding the lifestyle factors that affect heart failure can help you control this condition. Your nurses, physical therapists and other professionals talk with you about diet, exercise, medications and other factors that affect your health. They help you to monitor your weight, limit salt intake, get enough rest and know when you should contact your physician. You can contact your team 24 hours a day, seven days a week to answer questions.
  • Telemonitoring. Special monitoring technology allows your physicians to keep track of your signs and symptoms remotely and detect any developing problems early. Your team provides a telemonitor to take measurements such as weight, blood pressure, heart rate, and oxygen saturation. The information reaches your physicians immediately and we call or visit regularly to discuss your health and address any questions or concerns you may have. 

Patient Stories for Heart Failure

HeartFailure.org

This site helps patients experiencing heart failure find the resources and support they need.

Resources

HeartFailure.org

This site helps patients experiencing heart failure find the resources and support they need.