Senior man looking out of window at home
Of the more than six million Americans living with heart failure, about 10 percent have advanced heart failure. In short, that means conventional heart therapies and symptom management strategies are no longer working. Someone with advanced heart failure feels shortness of breath and other symptoms even at rest. Symptoms may include:
  • Shortness of breast: breathlessness during activity, at rest, or while sleeping, which may come on suddenly and wake you up
  • Persistent coughing or wheezing: coughing that produces white or pink blood-tinged mucus
  • Buildup of excess fluid in body tissues: swelling in the feet, ankles, legs or abdomen or weight gain
  • Tiredness, fatigue: a tired feeling all the time and difficulty with everyday activities
  • Lack of appetite, nausea: a feeling of being full or sick to your stomach
  • Confusion, impaired thinking: memory loss and feelings of disorientation
  • Increased heart rate: heart palpitations, which feel like your heart is racing or throbbing 

In its early stages, medication and a healthy lifestyle can help manage heart failure. But as the disease progresses and the heart becomes weaker, treatment gets more complex. That’s the time to have difficult, yet important, conversations with your family and your providers about the care you want to receive.


Ventricular assist devices (VADs)

Ventricular assist devices (VADs) are mechanical pumps implanted in the lower heart chambers (the left or right ventricles) to help the heart pump blood to the rest of the body. Heart surgeons can place VADs in either heart chamber, but are most frequently implanted in the left ventricle (LVAD).