What is Heart Dysfunction?
Heart dysfunction broadly describes any condition that results in the heart not pumping blood as efficiently as it should. The rest of the body relies on oxygen and nutrients in the bloodstream to continue functioning properly. A weakened heart uses various compensation mechanisms to keep up with the metabolic demands of the body. If the underlying heart condition is not treated, the cycle of compensation mechanisms continues to damage the heart until medical intervention is required.
Heart dysfunction is divided into distinct phases that correlate to disease progression.8
Stage A: At Risk for Heart Failure
No current or previous symptoms
Stage B: Pre-Heart Failure
No current or previous symptoms, but evidence of heart failure
Stage C: Symptomatic Heart Failure
Current or previous symptoms
Stage D: Advanced Heart Failure
Marked heart failure symptoms that interfere with daily life, frequent hospitalizations
While there are common symptoms associated with heart dysfunction, many people do not experience any symptoms at all, which makes early diagnosis even more crucial. Often, once symptoms do appear, the disease may have already progressed significantly. If they do occur, symptoms of heart dysfunction may include:10
Who is at Risk?
High Blood Pressure
Existing Cardiovascular Disease
Type 2 Diabetes
Diagnosing Heart Dysfunction
American Heart Association, American College of Cardiology, and the Heart Failure Society of America have collectively recommended early screening, detection, and treatment to prevent progression to symptomatic cardiac dysfunction.13