Ejection Fraction

What is ejection fraction?

Ejection fraction is a measurement that can gauge how healthy the heart is.

A healthy heart contracts (empties blood) and relaxes (refills blood) 60-80 times each minute. With each heartbeat, the heart pumps blood from the left and right ventricle.

In most cases, ejection fraction refers to the percentage of blood that's pumped out of the left ventricle with each heartbeat. 

For an example, an ejection fraction of 60% means that 60% of the blood from the left ventricle is being pumped out during each beat.

There are two types of ejection fraction
  1. Left ventricular : Left ventricular measures how much blood gets pumped from the left ventricle with each contraction. Typically, ejection fraction refers to left ventricular.
  2. Right ventricular :  Right ventricular ejection fraction measures how much blood is pumped out of the right side of the heart, to the lungs.

A low ejection fraction number can be an indicator of heart failure and can lead to a variety of symptoms, including:

Shortness of breath
Irregular heartbeat
Abdominal discomfort
Swelling in the legs and feet

Ejection fraction is determined by
  • Echocardiography – most common test used to measure ejection fraction.
  • Cardiac catheterization
  • MRI (magnetic resonance imaging)
  • Nuclear medicine scan
  • CT (computerized tomography)
Ejection Fraction, Values

  • 55 to 70% – Normal heart function.
  • 40 to 55% – Below normal heart function. Can indicate previous heart damage from heart attack or cardiomyopathy.
  • Higher than 75% – Can indicate a heart condition like hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a common cause of sudden cardiac arrest.
  • Less than 40% – May confirm the diagnosis of heart failure.
How to improve ejection fraction?

Limit salt : The average American eats nearly 3,400mg of sodium a day – more than double the recommended amount.
Fluid intake : Talk with your cardiologist about how much fluid to consume each day
Exercise : Try some type of physical activity 30 minutes each day.

There are medications that can raise your ejection fraction and improve symptoms. Your doctor may suggest:
  • Inotropes, like digoxin: They help your heart contract better.
  • Angiotensin - converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors or angiotensin II receptor blockers (ARBs): They ease stress on heart muscle.
  • Beta-blockers: They improve symptoms by slowing your heart rate a bit to lower its workload.
  • Diuretics: They help your body get rid of extra fluid from swelling.
  • Mineralocorticoid receptor antagonist: A type of diuretic that helps your body get rid of salt and fluid without losing potassium.

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