Understanding Congestive Heart Failure

If you are one of the 5.1 million Americans with advanced heart disease you know your risk for congestive heart failure is high and that your options for treatment are limited. Our physicians at CHI St. Vincent Heart Institute provide advanced options to help you return to the activities you love.

Congestive Heart Failure Specialists

Our specialists work closely with your primary care physician and cardiologist to ensure you receive the treatment you need. Ask your doctor to refer you to one of our heart failure specialists.

Cardiovascular Surgery, Thoracic Surgery
Primary Location
5 St. Vincent Circle, Suite 501, Little Rock, AR 72205
Cardiology, Cardiology: Advanced Heart Failure and Transplant
Primary Location
10100 Kanis Road, Little Rock, AR 72205

Dr. Waqas - Heart Failure Symptoms

I'm Dr. Waqas. I am a advanced heart failure LVAD and transplant cardiologist and I work at CHI St. Vincent.

It's very important to recognize the symptoms of heart failure at  an earlier stage than later. The data has shown that if these patients are detected at early time, and they are treated at the right time,  the chance of survival is better than patients who present later in the disease, even though those signs could be very subtle.

Those symptoms will be very subtle as well. They are very important symptoms to recognize. The most common one is a worsening fatigue and an inability to perform daily activities in comparison with a few days, few weeks, or a few months ago.

So, these patients become tired easy. They become symptomatic with less work, and they're unable to tolerate their medicines. As the heart pump becomes weaker, the blood
pressure drops and even the medicines they were taking before, they are unable to tolerate them because of low blood pressure.

Because of the low blood pressure affect, the kidney starts to get hurt. And because of that, they retain more water and lead to the perpetual cycle of fluid retention and organ dysfunction.

So, the early signs are early symptoms of these progressive disease are basically inability to tolerate of the day-to-day activity and becoming more symptomatic on the current medical therapy they are on. Another very important symptom in worsening heart failure is getting full earlier than before. These patients start to become a little bit more nauseated, even with a slight amount of food and with a slight amount of food they get full quick,  and that leads to their weight loss. Despite gaining fluid weight, they start to lose their muscle mass and that is actually a very advanced sign of advanced heart failure.

So, the loss of appetite, with getting full quicker than normal, is a very important symptom to remember for advanced heart failure.


Dr. Bauer - Heart Failure Treatments

Hi. I'm Dr. Thurston Bower and I'm a cardio-thoracic surgeon. I practice here 
at CHI St. Vincent's Infirmary in Little Rock, Arkansas.  

So, end-stage heart failures is just as it sounds. It's the end stages of this chronic disease usually of heart failure. There is many kinds or systolic and diastolic heart failure, but it all essentially comes down to the common point that the heart is not able to pump enough blood around the body to support  the rest of the body. That can result in a lot of symptoms, such as fatigue, shortness of breath, sometimes chest pain,  abdominal bloating, swelling in the legs,  food retention-- things like that.

We have a lot of medications that are excellent for treating heart failure, but essentially it comes down to the fact that it is a structural problem. So, for many patients, you know, they will continue to progress in severity in their heart failure despite treatment with medications.

The ventricle is the more muscular part of the heart and the one that is responsible for pumping the blood to the body and as the heart fails, this tends to dilate and lose some of its contractility. So, it struggles to pump that blood to the rest of the body. Some of the options would be cardiac transplant and left ventricular assist devices.

A left ventricular assist device is a mechanical pump that can be implanted in the body. It takes blood from the ventricle, puts it through the motor and the pump and then out to the aorta to the rest of the body and it truly assists the ventricle. It doesn't take over for the ventricle and we leave the ventricle there. The patients maintain the rest of their heart. It's just that it provides assistance to deliver blood to the rest of the body.

So, I'm very grateful for the trust that our referring physicians and families and patients have in coming to us and giving us the privilege to help take care of them.

Symptoms of Congestive Heart Failure

If you have congestive heart failure or advanced heart failure, you may experience these symptoms which will get worse over time if they are not treated:

  • Feeling weak and tired
  • Feeling short of breath
  • Retaining fluid in your feet, legs
  • Retaining fluid in your stomach and as a result feeling full sooner and losing your appetite

Congestive Heart Failure Treatments

Medication is used treat early stages of heart failure. Your doctor may recommend lifestyle changes to improve the health of your heart.

Heart Transplant is a treatment for advanced heart failure. The ideal heart transplant candidate is a person with end-stage heart disease or advanced heart failure, but with all other major organs in good shape and functioning efficiently.

LVAD, VAD (ventricular assist device), Impella heart pumps are used for patients waiting for a heart transplant. These devices sustain your weakened heart by helping it pump oxygen-rich blood throughout the body. You may require another major surgery, but need temporary support for the heart. These devices allow the heart to rest, heal and grow stronger before the stress of surgery. An LVAD also enables patients to recover more quickly from a massive heart attack and significant heart muscle damage. 

The CHI St. Vincent Infirmary is recognized as a Joint Commission Certified Center of Excellence for its Left-Ventricular Assist Device (LVAD) program.