what is ejection fraction | Dr Raghu

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In our previous blogs, we’ve explored the causes, symptoms, and treatment options of heart failure. Also, we’ve outlined different types of heart failure in detail. You can click here to check out our previous blogs.

In this article, we’ll discuss left ventricular ejection fraction, one of the most common parameters doctors use to diagnose heart failure. Let’s dive right in.

 

What Is Ejection Fraction?

Simply put, ejection fraction is a measure of the amount of blood pumped out from the heart’s lower chambers (ventricles). Ejection fraction can be of two types:

  • Left ventricular ejection fraction
  • Right ventricular ejection fraction

Right ventricular ejection fraction is the percentage of deoxygenated blood the right ventricle pushes into the lungs. On the other hand, left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF) is the percentage of oxygen-rich blood pumped out from the left ventricle into the arteries that carry blood to vital organs, muscles, and tissues.

Typically, doctors use the term “ejection fraction” when they refer to LVEF. If your heart is healthy and well functioning, the ejection fraction will range between 55% to 66%. An ejection fraction lower than 50% is a sign of systolic heart failure (or heart failure with reduced ejection fraction).

However, it’s possible for you to develop heart failure with an ejection fraction above 50%. In such cases, there’s a problem with the relaxed (or diastolic) phase of the heart’s pumping cycle. The condition is known as diastolic heart failure (or heart failure with preserved ejection fraction).

It’s worth noting that an abnormally high ejection fraction (above 70%) could be an indication of a heart condition like hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.

Symptoms of Low Ejection Fraction

As mentioned earlier, a low ejection fraction (below 50%) is a sign of heart failure. It means that the heart is unable to pump an adequate amount of blood into the arteries. It results in a shortage of blood supply to various organs. Also, it causes excess blood to back up in the lungs.

The most common symptoms of low LVEF include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Mental confusion
  • Pale or bluish skin color
  • Swelling in the abdomen, feet, and legs
  • Weight gain (due to fluid buildup)
  • Loss of appetite
  • Coughing and wheezing

Treatment of Low Ejection Fraction

Cardiologists use a wide array of tests to detect a low ejection fraction and its underlying cause. These include ECG, echocardiogram, chest X-ray, etc. The course of treatment depends on the underlying disorder that’s causing low LVEF.

The most common treatment options include medications, such as digoxin (to strengthen the heart’s contractions), beta-blockers (to ease the heart’s workload), and diuretics (to minimize fluid buildup in the body).

Additionally, your doctor will recommend lifestyle changes, such as weight loss, exercise, and a healthy diet to improve LVEF. Also, it’s a good idea to avoid alcohol consumption and tobacco smoking.

In Conclusion

A low LVEF is a prominent sign of systolic heart failure. It can cause symptoms like shortness of breath and fluid buildup in the body. If you’ve been diagnosed with a low ejection fraction, consult your doctor to explore your treatment options.

Dr. C Raghu is an eminent cardiologist with years of experience. He specializes in interventional cardiology. If you or anyone you know is experiencing symptoms of heart failure, feel free to consult Dr. Raghu today.

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    Left Ventricular Ejection Fraction Blog

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      Normal-Ejection-Fraction.jpg

      The ejection fraction is one of the most common parameters used to diagnose heart failure. If you want to know more about the cause, symptoms, and types of heart failure, check out our previous blog posts.

      In this article, we’ll delve deeper into ejection fraction and understand its relevance in heart failure diagnosis and treatment. Let’s get started.

      What Is Ejection Fraction?

      Ejection fraction refers to the percentage of blood the left ventricle pumps out during the systolic (or contraction) phase. The left atrium receives oxygen-rich blood from the lungs and sends it to the left ventricle. The walls of the left ventricle contract and pump blood into the arteries, which then carry it to different cells and tissues.

      Ejection Fraction

      What Is a Normal Ejection Fraction by Age ?

      Even a healthy heart doesn’t pump all the blood from the left ventricle in a single cycle. Therefore, an ejection fraction of 55 to 65% is considered normal. 

      Ejection Fraction and Heart Failure: Understanding the Connection

      Heart failure is the result of a gradual decline of the heart’s pumping function. It’s often caused by a weakening or thinning of the left ventricle, due to which the heart can’t contract with full force. That, in turn, means it can’t pump the required amount of blood into the arteries.

      The remaining blood backs up in the lungs, causing symptoms like shortness of breath. Also, lack of blood supply to vital organs like kidneys can lead to fluid buildup, resulting in swelling in the abdomen, feet, and legs. All these are telltale signs of heart failure.

      A weak left ventricle results in a lower than normal ejection fraction (under 50%). Thus, a low ejection fraction is often the first indicator of heart failure. It can be caused by various factors, such as dilated cardiomyopathy, coronary artery disease, hypertension, and diabetes.

      However, it’s worth noting that some patients might develop heart failure despite a normal ejection fraction. It happens when heart failure is the result of a problem in the diastolic (relaxed) phase of the heart’s pumping cycle. It’s caused when the walls of the ventricles become stiff and thick, thus letting less blood flow from the lungs into the heart.

      Related: What Are the Symptoms of Diastolic Dysfunction?

      Is It Possible to Improve Ejection Fraction?

      The likelihood of improving ejection fraction depends on a patient’s overall physical health and medical history. In most cases, doctors will recommend lifestyle, diet changes and medicines to improve or maintain normal ejection fraction. Also, it’s crucial for patients to stay physically active, so that their organs receive sufficient oxygen-rich blood.

      In Conclusion

      A normal ejection fraction of 55 to 65% is considered a sign of a healthy heart. People with an ejection fraction lower than 50% might be suffering from systolic heart failure. This is also termed Heart Failure with reduced ejection fraction. However, it’s also possible for you to develop heart failure and still have an ejection fraction of more than 50%. This condition is called diastolic heart failure or Heart Failure with preserved ejection fraction. 

      The good news is that it’s possible to improve ejection fraction with a combination of medications and lifestyle changes. If you’ve been diagnosed with heart failure with a reduced ejection fraction, feel free to contact Dr. C Raghu to explore your treatment options.

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