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Treating Heart Failure: Can You Improve Your Ejection Fraction?

Cardiologist Marrick Kukin, MD, explains tips for how to treat heart failure and improve ejection fraction numbers.

Lauren SmithMera Goodman, MD
Written by Lauren Smith | Reviewed by Mera Goodman, MD
Published on August 24, 2021

If you have heart failure, one of the numbers your doctor may introduce you to is something called ejection fraction. Your ejection fraction is the percentage of blood that the ventricle of the heart pumps out with each beat. For many people with heart failure, their ejection fraction is too low, meaning they’re not getting enough blood flow around the body. So, is it possible to improve your ejection fraction?

The good news: Yes, you can improve your ejection fraction. Plus, there are many benefits of doing so. Treating heart failure can help improve your heart’s function and get more blood flow around the body. As a result, this may reduce your heart failure symptoms, including shortness of breath and fatigue. Most importantly, you may slow the progression of heart failure.

The Goal for Ejection Fraction

The goal is to have an ejection fraction between 50 and 70 percent, which is “normal” ejection fraction. In other words, about half (or a little more) of the blood in the left ventricle gets pumped out with each beat. This ensures healthy blood flow throughout the body.

An ejection fraction higher or lower than that range can cause issues with blood flow. Learn more about heart failure numbers here.

Treating Heart Failure

Treating heart failure to improve ejection fraction involves a few things. For example, your doctor may suggest lifestyle changes, potentially medications, and surgical procedures in some cases. Lifestyle changes to improve ejection fraction include:

  • Eat a heart-healthy, low-sodium diet

  • Quit smoking (or don’t start)

  • Avoid alcohol or reduce intake

  • Exercise regularly, such as daily walks

  • Get to and stay at a healthy weight

Some people can manage heart failure and improve their ejection fraction with lifestyle changes alone. However, others may need medicines, including:

  • ACE inhibitors

  • Angiotensin II receptor inhibitors

  • Angiotensin-receptor neprilysin inhibitors

  • IF channel inhibitors

  • Beta blockers

  • Aldosterone antagonists

  • Hydralazine and isosorbide dinitrate

  • Diuretics

Finally, people with more advanced heart failure may benefit from implanted devices or surgical procedures. Common devices for heart failure include defibrillators and left ventricular assist devices. People with severe heart failure that doesn’t see improvement from lifestyle changes or medicines may need a heart transplant.

Worried about your heart failure progression? Talk to your doctor. Having the right treatment plan in place can help slow the progression of your heart failure. Plus, you may have fewer symptoms, which may improve your quality of life.

Additional Medical Contributors
  • Marrick Kukin, MDMarrick Kukin, MD, is a cardiologist at Lenox Hill Hospital, Northwell Health.

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