What Is Heart Failure?

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One in 5 people will get heart failure. It's a life-threatening condition where the heart can't pump enough blood around your body.

What Is Heart Failure?

There are two types of heart failure: 

  • Systolic means the heart muscle is weak. This usually happens when the left lower chamber (ventricle) is enlarged and can't contract the way it should. That means it can't pump with enough force to push blood through your body.
  • Diastolic means the heart muscle is stiff and can't contract or relax properly. That means it can't fill up with enough blood. It lowers how much blood is pumped through your body.

If your heart issues don't get better with medications, devices, or other surgeries, you may be a candidate for a heart transplant. In a heart transplant, the diseased heart is replaced with a healthy, working heart from a someone else (a donor).

Our heart failure team works with you and your family to treat and watch your condition. From lifestyle changes like diet and exercise to medications, heart implants, and transplants, we personalize your care plan for your needs.

Heart Failure: What It Is & How We Treat It

Very few hospitals offer all levels of care for heart failure at one site. Learn about this and other distinguishing factors of heart failure treatment at UVA. View heart failure transcript.

Nationally Recognized Heart Care

Our heart failure program won 2 national awards from the American Heart Association for the quality of our care. We’ve reduced the time to recover and readmission rates for our heart failure patients by taking important steps that include:

  • Device therapy (pacemakers, ICDs, LVAD and ECMO)
  • Follow-up appointments within several days of hospital discharge
  • Flu and pneumonia vaccinations
  • Patient education materials about heart failure management and readmission rates

At UVA Health, we’ve received the highest possible rating for 14 common conditions and procedures by U.S. News & World Report, including our heart failure care.

See more about our award-winning care.