Low Ejection Fraction

Overview

What Is Ejection Fraction?

Ejection fraction, or EF, is a measurement that indicates how well your heart is functioning. This number tracks how much blood your heart is pumping out with each contraction.

Your ejection fraction is described as a percentage. If you’re healthy, your ejection fraction is generally between 55% and 70%. For instance, an ejection fraction of 60% means your heart is pumping 60% of your blood out of your left ventricle (its main pumping chamber) every time your heart beats.

What Is Low Ejection Fraction?

Low ejection fraction, sometimes called low EF, is the term we use to describe your ejection fraction if it falls below 55%. It means your heart isn’t functioning as well as it could. If a diagnostic test indicates that you have low ejection fraction, your doctor will want to thoroughly check you for a heart condition.

If you get to a 35% ejection fraction or below, you are at high risk of developing a dangerous arrhythmia and going into heart failure.

Low Ejection Fraction Causes

Many different heart and vascular diseases can lead to low ejection fraction, including:

  • Cardiomyopathy: This condition causes areas of heart tissue to thicken. Learn more about cardiomyopathy.
  • Coronary artery disease: This heart disease narrows or blocks the two main arteries that supply blood to your heart muscle. Learn more about coronary artery disease.
  • Heart attack: Blockage of the heart’s arteries can permanently damage your heart muscle. Learn more about heart attack.
  • Heart valve disease: This condition happens when heart valves do not open and close properly to allow proper blood flow through the heart. Learn more about heart valve disease.
  • Systolic heart failure: This type of heart failure occurs when your heart’s left ventricle can’t pump blood forcefully enough.

World-Class Care

Aurora’s Specialized Low Ejection Fraction Care

As part of your diagnosis and treatment of low ejection fraction at Aurora Health Care, you can expect:

  • Convenient locations: With 15 hospitals and 155 clinics throughout eastern Wisconsin and northeastern Illinois, you can get low ejection fraction care at many convenient locations.
  • Unparalleled expertise: Treating heart and vascular conditions is an Aurora specialty. With more than 60 years of experience treating heart disease, we are one of the most active heart and vascular medicine programs in Wisconsin.
  • Advanced technology: Our labs are among the best-equipped facilities in the country. For instance, we are one of the first health systems in the world – and the first in Wisconsin – to use 4-D ultrasound imaging systems to diagnose and treat heart disorders.

Symptoms

When Should You See a Doctor for Low Ejection Fraction?

If you have two or more of the following symptoms, particularly if you already have a heart condition, check in with your health care provider:

  • Fatigue
  • Feeling of fullness or bloating
  • Heart palpitations
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea
  • Reduced ability to exercise
  • Shortness of breath
  • Swelling

Diagnosis & Treatment

Thorough Evaluation & Treatment for Low Ejection Fraction

Diagnosing low ejection fraction usually involves measuring the ejection fraction of the left ventricle (LVEF), a lower heart chamber that pumps blood to your entire body. (Your right ventricle pumps blood to your lungs.)

Diagnostic Tests

Your doctor may also use one or more of the following tests to complete a low ejection fraction diagnosis:

Learn more about heart and vascular testing and diagnosis at Aurora.

Treatment Options

Your doctor will probably recommend that you make some healthy lifestyle changes, such as getting exercise, losing weight, quitting smoking and/or reducing salt or excess fluids. In addition, your doctor may recommend:

  • Medication: Prescriptions such as beta blockers or diuretics may help improve your heart function and control your symptoms.
  • Biventricular pacemaker: This special type of pacemaker can help your heart chambers pump blood at the same time, as they should. Learn more about pacemaker implant.
  • Implantable cardiac defibrillator (ICD): This device, which is implanted in your chest, sends small electrical pulses to your heart to reestablish a healthy rhythm if your heart is in danger of stopping. Learn more about ICDs.
  • Heart transplant: When medicine, surgery or devices can’t help people with dangerously low ejection fraction and severe heart problems, a heart transplant might be an option. Learn more about heart transplant.

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