heart failure is not a heart attack

Many people believe that heart failure and a heart attack are one and the same, but that isn’t true. Heart failure, sometimes called a “weak heart,” develops over time and is defined simply as: A heart that is unable to pump enough blood to meet the body’s demands. As a result of continued inadequate blood flow, pressure within the blood vessels of the heart and lungs increases, eventually leading to congestive symptoms and shortness of breath. Heart failure is a disease that worsens over time and is rarely cured. Many people with heart failure who receive proper treatment may go on to live long, full and enjoyable lives. Read more about living with an LVAD ...

do you know the symptoms of heart failure? 1

  1. Shortness of breath
  2. Persistent wheezing or cough that produces white or pink blood-tinged mucus.
  3. Swelling of the feet, ankles, legs, or abdomen, or weight gain
  4. Tiredness, fatigue
  5. Lack of appetite, nausea
  6. Confusion or impaired thinking
  7. Increased heart rate

If you or someone you know is experiencing more than one of these symptoms, talk to a doctor or heart failure specialist immediately.

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The progression of heart failure

The NYHA (New York Heart Association) Heart Failure Class System is widely used to define the extent of heart failure.2 As the disease and symptoms progress, the heart failure class level advances from early stage heart failure – Class I, to end stage heart failure – Class IV. The graphic below shows limitations on activity level and thus, quality of life, at each stage.

  • Class I

    No symptoms or limitations to activity.

  • Class II

    Slight limitations of physical activity. Comfortable at rest; ordinary physical activity results in feeling tired and short of breath.

  • Class III

    Significant limitations of physical activity. Less than ordinary activity results in feeling tired and short of breath.

  • Class IV

    Unable to carry on any physical activity without discomfort. Tired and short of breath even at rest.

Heart failure management options

Management options for heart failure may include a combination of lifestyle changes, medications, implantable devices such as a pacemaker, defibrillator or left ventricular assist device (LVAD), and transplant. Patients may also receive a remote monitoring system which allows them to transmit data to the doctor without an in-office visit. The chart below shows some of the devices that may be recommended by a doctor at different stages of heart failure. Roll over or tap the device images below to learn more.

class I

why heart failure patients should know about lvads

Heart failure is a chronic disease that worsens over time and is rarely cured. However, an implanted heart pump, called a left ventricular assist device (LVAD) can make a significant positive impact on the lives of advanced heart failure patients (Classes III and IV).3 LVAD therapy helps the heart pump oxygen-rich blood throughout the body and can improve, or even reverse, the symptoms of heart failure.3

Although recognized as a viable treatment option, heart transplant is not always an option for all advanced heart failure patients. The supply of donor hearts is limited, and some patients may not qualify for a transplant due to other health issues. Without the assistance of an LVAD, medications and other treatments for advanced heart failure are very limited and become less effective as the disease progresses. You may find it reassuring to know that there are thousands of people around the world with LVADs living active, productive lives. They are spending time with friends and family and doing the things they love.4 Read more...

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Heart failure is serious, but with the right treatment

you can lead an active life

Ron – Living well withthe HeartMate 3TM LVAD

find a heartmateTM lvad advanced Heart Failure Center

HeartMate LVADs are available nationwide. To find a HeartMateTM LVAD center near you, click the button or call our information center, below.

Each of our heart failure patient stories reflects one person’s experience. Keep in mind that not everyone will experience the same results. Talk to your doctor about the benefits and risks of your treatment options. And please note that Abbott does not provide medical services or advice as part of this website. Click here for indication and risk information for the HeartMate IITM LVAD and the HeartMate 3TM LVAD.


1. Warning signs of heart failure. Retrieved from http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/HeartFailure/WarningSignsforHeartFailure/Warning-Signs-of-Heart-Failure _UCM_002045_Article.jsp#.WcVdEcaou00.  2. Adapted from Dolgin M, Association NYH, Fox AC, Gorlin R, Levin RI, New York Heart Association. Criteria Committee. Nomenclature and criteria for diagnosis of diseases of the heart and great vessels. 9th ed. Boston, MA: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins; March 1, 1994.Original source: Criteria Committee, New York Heart Association, Inc. Diseases of the Heart and Blood Vessels. Nomenclature and Criteria for diagnosis, 6th edition Boston, Little, Brown and Co. 1964, p 114.  3. McIlvennan CK, Magid KH, Ambardekar AV, Thompson JS, Matlock DD, Allen LA. Clinical Outcomes Following Continuous-Flow Left Ventricular Assist Device: A Systematic Review. Circ. Heart Fail. Oct 7 2014.  4. What is an LVAD? How does it work? Retrieved from https://www.mylvad.com/content/what-lvad-how-does-it-work.