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What Is the Ejection Fraction for Heart Failure?

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  • Written By: Jodee Redmond
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 18 April 2014
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The ejection fraction for heart failure is a number used to determine how effectively a patient's heart is pumping. An ejection fraction of 55 percent is an indication that the heart is working well. Patients with a ejection fraction number under 40 may be in heart failure and need medical treatment to improve this organ's function. A doctor can order tests and suggest a course of treatment that may include lifestyle changes and medications if heart failure is confirmed.

The heart works like a pump inside the body to keep organs, muscles and cells supplied with oxygenated blood. A normal heart beat has a "ka-thump" rhythm, which indicates the muscle contracting and then relaxing in between beats. When the heart muscle contracts, this movement pushes blood out of the ventricles, which are the large lower chambers of this organ. The ventricles fill up with blood again when the heart is relaxing.

At no point does the beating of the heart completely empty the ventricles of blood. The ejection fraction refers to the amount of blood that is being pumped out of the ventricles every time the heart beats. The ejection fraction for heart failure and to determine the heart's pumping efficiency is usually measured using the left ventricle, since this is section responsible for the heart's main pumping action.

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Using this method of measuring heart health, the ejection fraction for heart failure is lower than the "normal" reading of 55 or higher. If this figure is between 40 and 55, it can be a sign that the heart muscle has been damaged and is not pumping efficiently. When the figure falls below 40, it could indicate that the individual is in heart failure

Other medical conditions that can cause the heart to pump at less than its normal capacity. The ejection fraction for heart failure number can also indicate an issue with the heart valves. Another possibility is that the heart has been affected by a disorder that targets the muscle itself and weakens it.

It is possible for a person to pass the ejection fraction for heart failure test and still be in heart failure. In a situation where the muscle in the patient's ventricle has thickened and is no longer pliable, it may not hold as much blood as a healthy person's heart. Less blood in the chamber means the body is not being supplied with the nutrients and oxygen it needs to stay healthy.

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