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Waitematā DHB Cardiology Services

Public Service, Cardiology

Heart Failure

Heart failure refers to the heart failing to pump efficiently to meet the demands of the body. There are many diseases that cause this including: coronary artery disease, high blood pressure, viral infections, alcohol, and diseases affecting the valves of the heart. In rare cases it can be familial. 
When the heart is inefficient a number of symptoms occur, depending on the cause and severity of the condition.  The main symptoms are tiredness, breathlessness on exertion or lying flat, and ankle swelling.  Doctors often refer to oedema, which means fluid retention, usually in your feet or lungs as a result of the heart not pumping efficiently.
Tests looking for possible causes of heart failure include:
  •  chest X-ray
  •  electrocardiogram (ECG)
  •  echocardiogram (Cardiac ultrasound)
  •  coronary angiography
  •  cardiac MRI.
You are likely to have several medications over time, started and monitored by your cardiologist, the heart failure nurse specialist or your GP. 
These include: medication to control the amount of fluid that builds up (diuretics), medication to protect your heart and slow it down, medications that will help the heart to pump more efficiently and under less strain, as well as medications to thin your blood. 
You will often be referred to a dietitian or given advice about restricting the amount of fluid and salt you take as this can contribute to symptoms.
You will be given reading material to learn more about your disease.

You will have regular follow-up in our heart failure clinics which are run by the cardiologists or by the heart failure nurses who are supervised by your cardiologist.

Patient Resources

Click on the following links to download a patient information booklet:

This page was last updated at 12:54PM on September 20, 2021.