Heart failure and other cardiac risks

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Submitted by Dr T on December 8, 2012 – 10:05am

Question: 
My father was told today his heart is functioning only 15%. He is a diabetic and has a defiberlator.His feet has been swollen for a few weeks.Also a smoker about a pack a day.What does this mean?How ill is he?Thank you

Hi Darlene,
None of this is good news. Normal heart function is about 60-70%. He has congestive heart failure, not surprising with such a poor heart. Besides diabetes, I expect he has had previous heart attacks due to many other risk factors, such as CAD and hypertension, as well as COPD due to smoking. While there is some treatment available, I am concerned it may not be very successful at this stage. The defibrillator is part of that treatment but is there only fort dangerous rhythms that often occur in patients with heart failure.

Hope this helps,
Dr T

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