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Hawkat, July 30,  2019  11:45am EST

Recent diagnosis of systolic heart failure

Hello! I was diagnosed in May with systolic heart failure, left bundle branch block and ventricular enlargement. I had been having shortness of breath and a burning sensation in my chest for the past 8 months, gradually getting worse. I could only walk for less than a minute before getting these symptoms at the time I figured something was wrong and went to the ER, thinking maybe it was asthma or bronchitis. After a lot of tests including EKG, echocardiogram and heart catheterization, when they found an ejection fraction of 22%  they gave me the diagnosis. This was quite a surprise for me! Currently I'm on several different medications and a low sodium diet, and have lost 12 lbs. so far. I'll be seeing a cardiologist on August 16th and will find out what the next steps are. So far I have good days when I have a lot of energy and bad days when I'm tired all the time. I walk for 30 minutes a day but have to rest frequently as I still have symptoms. It is discouraging to find this out but at least I know.

  • afibabit
    afibabit, July 30,  2019  3:30pm EST

    When you say ventricular enlargement, do you mean the ventricular wall is thickened or do you mean the ventricle is dilated? 

  • Hawkat
    Hawkat, July 30,  2019  3:38pm EST

    I was using the description from my patient website that my doctor filled out, but they told me the ventricle is dilated.

  • afibabit
    afibabit, July 30,  2019  3:54pm EST

    Please let us know the August 16 results when you get them.  Will be interested in seeing how this progresses. Good luck. 

  • Hawkat
    Hawkat, July 30,  2019  4:01pm EST

    Thank you! I sure will!

  • Jim1962
    Jim1962, July 30,  2019  8:01pm EST

    This website and forum is tremendously supportive. I would recommend learning as much as you can here and write down your questions and concerns for your cardiology appointment. Ask away in this thread also. All of the people here 'get it'. I also have HFREF (aka Chronic systolic heart failure) EF=31%. Here's a start https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/heart-failure/heart-failure-tools-resources/heart-failure-questions-to-ask-your-doctor It sounds like you're doing the right things so far. 12 pounds! That's great.  And I'm sure that you'll be advised to ask your cardiologist about cardiac rehab, which is highly recommended. I also just posted a response in the thread below this one with some informative links.


  • Hawkat
    Hawkat, July 30,  2019  8:24pm EST

    Thanks, Jim! It's a learning curve for sure. I had no idea it was my heart, my last checkup (about a year and a half ago) everything was fine, good BP and no detected heart problems. When I was in the hospital in Yakima, they kept asking me if I had a viral infection, or some extremely stressful event (none that I could recall). I hope I find out more at my upcoming appointment, but the doctors actually seemed a little puzzled at that time. During the heart cath they mentioned that they could place a stent if needed--I think they believed at first there was a blockage of some sort. I did start to worry when the doctor suddenly said "well, I wasn't expecting that!" Always encouraging to hear...At the end of the procedure it felt like I had a balloon in my chest, had trouble breathing and ended up coughing up fluid for about an hour and was on oxygen for several hours. Since then I've followed a very strict diet, lots of veggies and a fair amount of fruit;  fish and poultry, very little red meat. I feel better but still have the burning sensation when I exert myself.

    Thank you for the link, I do have questions I need to ask at my appointment and making a list. I have been walking at least 30 minutes a day and use weights for my arms and upper body. But mostly watching my symptoms and waiting to see what the cardiologist says.

  • barbanderson
    barbanderson, August 3,  2019  8:05pm EST

    If you have hfref of 40 and experience ercixe up to 60, do you have hfpef?

  • Hawkat
    Hawkat, August 3,  2019  8:48pm EST

    barbanderson, I do not know. Perhaps someone else can answer your question.

  • Rmp829
    Rmp829, August 8,  2019  9:58am EST

    Hello Hawkat,

     I was diagnosed with heart failure in April of this year. I had shortness of breath. But what struck me about your post is the burning sensation in my chest. I keep telling my team about the burning and they keep telling me it’s not my heart that it must be acid reflux 🤷🏽‍♀️ I take pantoprozole for me stomach because of all the pain meds I was taking for my low back pain. They told me to tale tums for the burning in my chest.  I don’t know if it matters but It’s good to know someone else going thru similar symptoms. 

    Looking forward to hearing an update after August 16th?  I go back in September for another echo. My current ef is 28%. They are sure the Entresto will strengthen my heart. We shall see 🙂




  • Hawkat
    Hawkat, August 8,  2019  12:47pm EST

    Hello Rmp829!

    Yes, the sensation I describe as "burning" isn't really burning (and definitaly not like acid reflux/heartburn--I know what that feels like!). Not really pain or pressure either. The best I can think of is "discomfort" that occurs shortly after activity or emotional upset and goes away when I rest. Does that description fit with what you experience? That was one of the symptoms that brought me to the ER to start with. I told them it was pain and of course they took that seriously!

    I am looking forward to the appointment and will certainly discuss my "discomfort" with them. I still have it but the shortness of breath has now eased somewhat. I am hoping that my EF will be higher than the 22% I had in the hospital. I will share my results after my appointment.

    I hope you are doing better. It is not fun to find out that one has heart failure, but personally I would rather know and get it treated than the possible alternative. :)

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