Advanced Heart Failure

Someone with advanced heart failure may experience shortness of breath and other symptoms even when at rest.  

Advanced heart failure (also referred to as end-stage heart failure) is a type of heart failure in the final, most serious stage. Heart failure is a progressive condition that worsens over time, with the heart gradually pumping less and less blood, so symptoms will generally become more severe as the condition moves into this advanced stage. 

Causes of Advanced Heart Failure 

Heart failure is typically caused by other cardiovascular conditions, such as coronary artery disease and high blood pressure (hypertension). Unfortunately, because heart failure is a progressive condition, it can’t be reversed or stopped entirely. Once someone is diagnosed with heart failure, it’s only a matter of time until the condition worsens and reaches its final stages, even if steps are taken to slow the progression in the meantime. 

Symptoms of Advanced Heart Failure 

As heart failure progresses, existing symptoms will generally worsen and new symptoms may arise. Someone with advanced heart failure may experience: 

  • Fatigue 
  • Weakness 
  • An increased or irregular heartbeat (many patients report feeling like their heart is racing or throbbing) 
  • Shortness of breath even when resting (dyspnea) 
  • Persistent coughing or wheezing, which might be accompanied by the production of white or pink mucus 
  • Lack of appetite 
  • Nausea 
  • Abdominal pain 
  • Severe unexplained weight loss 
  • Frequent urination 
  • Swelling (edema) within the neck veins, abdomen, legs, ankles and feet 

In addition to these physical symptoms, individuals with advanced heart failure may also experience: 

  • Cognitive difficulties such as confusion, disorientation and memory loss 
  • Depression 
  • Anxiety or fear about the future 
  • Insomnia 
  • Feelings of isolation 

Diagnosing Advanced Heart Failure 

Once someone has been diagnosed with heart failure, his or her physician will monitor the condition to determine how quickly it’s progressing, whether it’s affecting other parts of the body and how it’s responding to certain treatments. In addition to performing physical examinations on a periodic basis, a physician may also order: 

  • Angiograms 
  • Blood tests 
  • Echocardiograms
  • Electrocardiograms (EKGs) 
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans 
  • Positron emission tomography (PET) scans 
  • Sleep studies 
  • Stress tests 
  • X-rays 

Nationally Recognized Treatment for Advanced Heart Failure 

When heart failure is still in its early stages, it can often be managed by taking medication and making certain lifestyle changes. However, once the condition has progressed to a more advanced stage, more complex therapies may be required. 

Tampa General Hospital is recognized by U.S. News & World Report as a High Performing hospital for Heart Failure treatment.

The world-class heart and vascular specialists at Tampa General Hospital are uniquely positioned to care for and treat even the most complex advanced heart failure cases. Recommended treatments may include: 

  • Cardiac resynchronization therapy 
  • The implantation of a ventricular assist device 
  • Continuous intravenous (IV) inotropic therapy 
  • A heart transplant 
  • Palliative or hospice care