Apr 22
mabuckner , Posted on SUPPORT NETWORK Blog

Low EF. Now what?

In December 2016 I noted an unusual weakness doing normal tasks. One night I got out of bed and passed out briefly. Otherwise I was in good health. I am 59 and recently retired. I went to my doctor to see why I had passed out. He suggested some basic heart tests. Those tests (ECHO) indicated a low EF of about 15. I was admitted to the hospital a couple of days later for a heart cath and observation.  The heart cath showed no blockages with a EF of 35-40.  I was told the likely cause of low EF was a heart virus. I was put on Coreg. 6 weeks later I had a repeat ECHO. It was again about 15. A couple of weeks ago I had a third ECHO. It was still low, about 20. I feel some better but not normal. I am some weaker than I used to be. I can walk 30 minutes on treadmill with no problem. I am on low sodium diet. I have lost a few pounds since this all started. I do feel more anxious. Next week I see a electrophysiologist to consider implanting a defribulator.

As most others in this support group I have been shocked with the unexpected change in my health. I have always been active, thin, never smoked. Now I am trying to figure out exactly where I am and how to maximize my health and have a positive attitude. 

A couple a of questions for any of you:
1.  Have any of you seen a large difference in EF measurement results between ECHO and heart cath?  Any thoughts on why the difference and which is more accurate?
2. Anyone seen their EF improve over time?  If so how much over how long?  

I wish you you all well. I would appreciate any feedback. 

  • jlb
    it went back up Yes, I have had a low EF. And it has improved. Four years ago in Oct. I was just not feeling right and I drove myself to the ER. After they drew my blood to check my cardiac enzymes they stated I was having a heart attack. This led to transporting me to Magnolia Hospital where a year before that they had performed four bypasses. Of course they did other tests and another heart cath. At that time I was not aware that my EF was at 20. A few weeks later at Vanderbilt Hospital in Nashville they performed an echo. My EF went from 20 to back up again to 45. No defibulator was not needed. Not sure why but it did and I was thankful!
  • mamalyss
    Hi Mike, In January, 2017, I went into the hospital with a diagnosis of pneumonia and found out that I had several silent heart attacks, with the last one being sometime within 2 weeks of admission. My EF was 20. (I had no idea what an EF even was!) I was 50 years old and never had any signs or symptoms associated with a heart attack, cardiomyopathy, or CHF. The doctor placed a stent and, they put me on the Zoll life-vest with the external AED for the last three months. Despite the fact that I hated wearing it, I dealt with it (better than the alternative...having a "final" heart attack and not knowing it.) During these last three months, I have changed my diet to reduce sodium intake. I was someone who went out to dinner on almost a daily basis...no more. I was also put on a number of medications which I take religiously. My cardiologist said I needed to be on the life-vest for three months, and then they would do an echo to determine if I needed the implanted defibrillator. I had the echo done just last week and my EF has increased to 45 in the three months. No implant needed! Before you have an implant, see if they would consider the life-vest while you make lifestyle changes and perhaps, cardio-rehab. Keep us updated. I am new to this board and have to say, reading and learning about those in similar situations who give us inspiration and advice has been "heartwarming." Good luck to you.
  • AHAASAKatie
    Good morning! I am so glad that you are here and sharing with us. I want to share the patient education information that we have on Heart Failure http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/HeartFailure/Heart-Failure_UCM_002019_SubHomePage.jsp I also encourage you to look around the Support Network. We have a vibrant and engaged heart failure community for you to engage with. Best Katie
  • nukec1
    Hi Mike, I had open heart march 2012 single bypass. My EF was 33 and I was told I needed a defib/pacemaker. Lost my wife to a massive stroke 8 months after my event. Waited 7months to do the procedure and glad I did. I have always been active and now I live each day to the fullest. Hope to keep on ticking, and hope you do too!
  • Heartsick
    MY EF is all over the place (ECHO) 45, 38 31, 35 20, 10 to 25 % ... the last three since September. I also have LBBB so I don't know how that contributes. Only started to feel tired in last few months ... have lived with these ECHO readings for 20+ years and refuse to do a cath (too dangerous) or CRT-D. I saw an improvement by going gluten-free ... but that's mostly because of allergies. C-Reactive Protein also improved. Good luck finding a doctor/s who will tell you the truth about dangers of their tests/devices. Best to keep on going as long as you are able without interference.
  • esBee
    thank you for asking this question. it made me realize that my cardiologist needs to give me more information that simply "you have a low ejection fraction because your heart doesn't contract hard enough." i see her next month and will ask her "how low is low?" so that i can monitor whether i am having improvement from diet, exercise and pharmaceuticals. the stress part make take a bit longer to get under control. i can't quite get my head to accept what my heart's been though (infarct and arrest) even though my grandmother and mother both had vascular disease.
  • famoustim
    Hi, my name is Tim, 58, and new to all of this, but, glad I found you. EF of 20%, Taking meds, low sodium.......have had cath. very little blockage....but most of all, frightened with all of this. Looking for friendship and people to talk to.......going to conquer this and change my life....anyone want to help? Tim
  • famoustim
    Well going to get my cardiac rehab info tmrw. Next electro next thursday...........hopefully, praying my ejection fraction has gotten better. Have been on very low sodium diet for about 2 months, feeling well and ready to beat this........keep all prayers simple, but loud..........God is good.......we as a group cant beat chf, but we can work to , make life longer, easier and more fulfilling! Bless all of you, Tim
  • hope4miracle

    @Tinman, my 18 year old nephew has EF of 15% and has not improved in the last 9 months. They are putting ICD in him in November. I have some questions for you regarding ICD and EF. Can I private message you please? Thank you! 

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