When your heart beats, it contracts, pumping some—but not all—of the blood out of your heart. Ejection fraction measures how much blood leaves the heart each time it contracts.
If your ejection fraction is 57%, this means 57% percent of the blood pumps out of your heart each time it contracts. A normal ejection fraction is not 100%. It’s actually 50%-70%.
Knowing your ejection fraction helps your doctor figure out a treatment plan.
If your ejection fraction is greater than or equal to 50%
This means you may have what’s called heart failure with preserved ejection fraction, or HFpEF. It’s also known as diastolic heart failure.
Heart failure with preserved ejection fraction happens when your heart can’t relax as it once did. The heart walls have thickened and become stiff. This limits the amount of blood that can fill the heart. With this type of heart failure, you may feel out of breath during normal activities. You may also feel tired. Or, you may not have any symptoms at all.
Your doctor may prescribe meds to help with your symptoms. If you have other conditions like high blood pressure, it’s important to manage those as well.
If your ejection fraction is less than 40%
This means you have heart failure with reduced ejection fraction, or HFrEF. It’s also called systolic and diastolic heart failure.
With HFrEF, your heart has weakened. It’s unable to pump blood out to the body the way it used to. Some people may not have any symptoms. Others may feel short of breath or tired even when at rest.
If your ejection fraction is between 41% and 49%
This means you likely have heart failure with mid-range ejection fraction, or HFmrEF. It’s also called mild systolic and diastolic heart failure.
Heart failure with mid-range ejection fraction falls between heart failure with preserved and heart failure with reduced ejection fraction. If you have HFmrEF, you may move between the two. This depends on your lifestyle, treatment and overall health.
In this range, you may feel short of breath or tired when doing regular activities. You may have no symptoms at all. Heart failure meds may be used in some patients with HFmrEF. It’s important to manage any other conditions you may have, such as diabetes or kidney disease.
Heart failure with improved ejection fraction
This is also called “recovered” ejection fraction. This is because it starts with an ejection fraction of less than or equal to 40%, but it improves over time.
With treatments and medications, your heart function may even return to normal ejection fraction levels. Taking your meds and following your treatment plan can help ensure you maintain this improvement.
Managing your ejection fraction
Work with your doctor to come up with a plan to manage your heart failure. Your treatment plan will likely include daily medications and regular exercise. You may need to keep track of your weight and limit the salt and fluids in your diet as well.
If you have HFrEF, the meds you’re taking may help strengthen your heart. This could improve your ejection fraction. It is important to focus on healthy habits that can help you live your fullest life. This will also help you have fewer symptoms.
Tests to measure ejection fraction
Your doctor may have you take one of these tests to measure your ejection fraction:
- Echocardiogram, also known as “echo”
- Stress test, including nuclear and echo
- Cardiac MRI
- Multigated acquisition scan, also called a MUGA scan
- Cardiac catheterization with ventriculogram