The ejection fraction indicates the amount of blood pumped out of your heart with each beat. A normal ejection fraction is 65 percent. If you have been diagnosed with a low ejection fraction, there can be many possible causes. Treatment can range from blood letting for those with an overabundance of iron stores in the body, to exterminating the parasites of Chagas disease. Lack of blood flow to the heart muscle is a common cause of low ejection fraction in the United States. Unfortunately not everyone can be restored to normal. All people with a low ejection fraction require treatment to prevent fluid buildup in the lugs. This crisis is called congestive failure and requires hospitalization. If your ejection fraction is below 40 percent you are at more risk for congestive failure. Fortunately, treatments to prevent this crisis are effective.
Things You'll Need
- Medications prescribed by your doctor
- Accurate daily body weight measurements
- Low salt diet of 2 grams of sodium per day or less
- Daily fluid intake measurements
- Exercise recommendations from your doctor
Carry a list of medications you take, the list should include doses of the medications as well. Your list should include a medication from the "Beta blocker" category, one from the "Angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitor" or "Angiotensin receptor blocker" category, and an aspirin. Ask your doctor to review the list with you. Surveys show 14 percent of people with a low ejection fraction are not correctly prescribed these medications by their doctor.
Weigh yourself daily in the morning after you have emptied your bladder. Keep a record of your weights. If you gain 2 pounds or more for two days in a row let your doctor know right away. Your doctor may be able to show you how to adjust your own doses of fluid pills according to your weight gain.
Follow a low sodium diet. Usually this is 2 grams, or 2000mg of sodium daily. A DASH diet provides a useful guideline for salt intake. Ask your doctor for a referral to a dietitian if you have trouble calculating your daily intake of sodium. Up to 18 percent of hospitalizations for congestive failure can be avoided by following strict dietary guidelines.
Ask your doctor how much fluid to drink. Many people at risk for heart failure are asked to keep their fluid intake to less than two liters per day, depending on how low their ejection fraction is.
Ask your doctor for a referral to cardiac rehabilitation classes. Therapists can design the perfect exercise program for your heart.