Harvard Heart Letter

Heart failure with 'preserved ejection fraction': What does it mean?

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Heart muscle damage is
already well advanced by the time symptoms appear. Getting a correct heart failure diagnosis is key.

A variety of factors can lead the heart to fail even when pumping capacity appears normal.

A heart is said to "fail" when it can't pump efficiently enough to meet the body's need for blood. Doctors used to think that heart failure had one cause: a weakening of the main pumping chambers, the ventricles. Then techniques were developed to accurately determine the ejection fraction (EF)—a measure of how effectively the heart was pumping (see "The meaning of ejection fraction").

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