Heart failure affects over 5,000,000 Americans and is the number 1 cause of admission to the hospital in United States. Symptoms of heart failure include shortness of breath while exerting yourself or when you lie down, fatigue and weakness, swelling in your legs, feet and ankles, and a persistent cough. Blockage in the heart arteries, high blood pressure, heart attacks, faulty heart valves and diabetes can lead to heart failure.
An echocardiogram is probably the most important test to diagnose heart failure as it allows the physician to see how the heart muscle is pumping. For some with end stage heart failure refractory to medications, placement of a mechanical device into the abdomen or chest is done to assist the heart. These devices are known as the left ventricular assist devices or LVADs for short. For those who are deemed appropriate, sometimes a heart transplant may be the only option.