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What Is Advanced Heart Failure?

Advanced heart failure is when heart failure progresses to the most severe stage. When you have advanced heart failure, your blood pressure, blood flow, kidney and liver function, exercise capacity, and overall heart function become extremely weak. Advanced heart failure is also called end-stage heart failure. 

Why Choose University of Utah Health?

U of U Health has a long legacy of excellence in heart failure care and continues to advance groundbreaking innovations in cardiovascular medicine research. We offer multiple therapies through our renowned Heart Failure Program

Our cardiologistscardiothoracic surgeons, and researchers pioneer leading-edge therapies and improve heart failure care to benefit you. Medical professionals nationally and internationally recognize us for our expertise in heart transplantsheart pumps, and heart failure care.

People travel throughout the Mountain West region and beyond to receive comprehensive care with our team. Our experts educate other physicians on treatment for end-stage heart failure. And we have created an extensive shared-care system where we partner with cardiologists in more than 20 states. 

Find an Advanced Heart Failure Specialist

Symptoms of Advanced Heart Failure

Advanced heart failure and heart failure have similar symptoms. But in advanced heart failure, your symptoms are more severe, and you experience symptoms even while at rest: 

  • Coughing or wheezing
  • Fatigue
  • Heart palpitations 
  • Nausea or lack of appetite 
  • Shortness of breath
  • Swelling and edema (fluid buildup) in your calves, ankles, and feet 

Who Is More Likely to Get Advanced Heart Failure?

Anyone with heart failure could progress to advanced heart failure. You may be more likely to advance to end-stage heart failure if any of the following traits apply to you:

Diagnosis & Evaluation of Heart Failure

Heart failure progresses on a spectrum, with end-stage heart failure being the most severe stage. Your heart failure symptoms may progress over time. Eventually, your symptoms may reach a stage where cardiologists diagnose you with advanced heart failure. 

Cardiologists will evaluate heart failure regularly to monitor whether it’s progressing. They will use tests that check your heart function and symptoms: 

Your cardiologist may diagnose advanced heart failure if they notice any of these signs: 

  • Your cardiac output (how much heart your blood pumps in one minute) decreases.
  • Your kidney and liver function decline. 
  • Pressure inside your heart increases.
  • Your symptoms no longer respond to medications.

Advanced Heart Failure Treatment Options

Your cardiologist will follow heart failure treatment guidelines to determine what treatments may benefit you. In advanced heart failure, medications and lifestyle changes alone don’t effectively reduce your symptoms. You may need other treatments. 

  • Cardiac resynchronization: Your cardiologist implants a device that delivers electrical impulses to your heart’s main pumping chambers. These electrical signals help your heart chambers to pump and squeeze at the same time. This can help enhance your heart function. 
  • Implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD): Your cardiologist implants a small device that connects to your heart with small wires. An ICD will shock your heart back in sync if it detects an irregular rhythm. 
  • Ventricular assist device (VAD): Your surgeon will place a VAD in one of your heart’s ventricles to help your heart pump blood to the rest of your body. You may use a VAD long-term or temporarily while waiting for a heart transplant. Sometimes the ventricular assist devices can lead to significant improvement of the heart function—a phenomenon called heart recovery. Our team at U of U Health is considered a leader worldwide in therapies, such as VAD and others, that can lead to heart recovery.
  • Heart transplant: Your surgeon will replace your heart with a healthy one from a donor. 

How Long Can You Live with Advanced Heart Failure?

When a patient reaches the end stage of the disease, the expected survival rate can be as low as several months. However, survival rates and quality of life increases significantly with therapies like ventricular assist devices and heart transplant

Make an Appointment

Provider referrals are welcome but not always necessary. Call 801-585-5122 to make an appointment for a heart failure evaluation or complete our appointment request form. Before scheduling your appointment, our team will request medical records from your cardiologist to help plan your visit. 

We look forward to meeting you and providing the care you need to live a full life.

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