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Why Ejection Fraction Matters?

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Simply put, an ejection fraction is an indicator of how well or not the heart is working. The standard fraction of ejection is between 50% and 75%. This means that any time the heartbeats, it pumps (ejects) that much of the blood in the heart to other parts of the body.

Although some blood remains after each heartbeat-even in a perfectly healthy heart, an ejection fraction of less than 50% means that the heart muscle is weak and unable to pump at maximum capacity. This can be caused by a heart attack and/or heart failure, as well as other forms of heart disease, and needs medical attention.

The most common test to determine your ejection fraction is an ECHO (echocardiogram) – a sound wave imaging machine that captures images of the 4 heart chambers in action (plus the valves) while you lie on a table. This is often done in conjunction with a stress test (walking on a treadmill while the speed and incline are periodically increased).

Alternatively, a nuclear stress test involves a scanner that detects a radioactive dye in the bloodstream for images of the heart (but not the valves) as well as the treadmill exercise. This version is usually preferred if the heart muscle has been damaged. A third option, pharmacologic testing, is available for patients unable to utilize the treadmill. Other tests that measure ejection fraction include MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) and CT (computed tomography).

What Do My "Ejection Fraction" Results Mean?

COPYRIGHT_WI: Published on https://washingtonindependent.com/ebv/why-ejection-fraction-matters/ by Jaya Mckeown on 2021-01-20T23:12:44.646Z

If the results of your ejection fraction are between 35 and 55%, certain medications may help to ease the strain on your heart, helping you to live a more normal life while recovering from your heart attack. An ejection fraction of less than 35% is more severe because it suggests a substantial rise in the risk of cardiac arrest.

Unlike a heart attack, which is a circulation problem (like a clogged drain), cardiac arrest is an "electrical" problem (like a power outage) and your lights can go out permanently in just a matter of minutes.

For survivors of a heart attack, the probability of such an incident is greatest in the six months immediately following your MI (heart attack). This is the bad news. The good news is that the heart will always recover power, increasing the fraction of the ejection, if you do what you can to help. ​

There is also an implantable device called an ICD (implanted cardioverter defibrillator) which is an option if your doctor feels it is best not to wait to see if your ejection fraction increases.

Improving Ejection Fraction - What Can I Do?

If your fraction of ejection is below average, your doctor will probably advise you to restrict your total sodium intake (I was advised to take 1500 mg, but ask your doctor) and to control your intake of fluid. Owing to decreased blood flow, your kidneys are not able to perform as well as they should, and fluid accumulation will increase your blood pressure, making your weakened heart work harder.

Be sure to read the labels for sodium content on everything you buy at the supermarket – it's amazing how much salt is in all kinds of foods! Your doctor will also probably mention exercise - if he does, ask him if cardiac rehab is right for you.

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About The Authors

Jaya Mckeown

Jaya Mckeown - Jaya moved to Boston from New York to pursue a master's degree in corporate communications at Emerson College. This experience, combined with her undergraduate degree in psychology and teaching, has equipped her with valuable skills that she employs on a daily basis in real estate negotiations, homebuyer and seller education, and successful promotion of the team's listings. Jaya's clients often characterize her as meticulous, proactive, and enjoyable to be around.

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