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Important Concepts. Clinical stages in the evolution of heart failure Heart failure is a continuous spectrum of changes, from the subtle loss of normal function to the presence of symptoms refractory to medial therapy. The patient with cardiomyopathy may maintain overall normal ventricular function; the progression of dysfunction may be sudden or gradual. Asymptomatic ventricular dysfunction is characterized by the absence of symptoms or decline in functional capacity, even in the absence of treatment. It may be associated with different changes in cardiac physiology, including ventricular dilatation, regional wall motion abnormalities, and decreases in the LV ejection fraction and of other parameters of ventricular function. The absence of symptoms may be explained by the heart’s functional reserve capacity and by the activation of compensatory mechanisms opposing the deterioration of cardiac function. In compensated heart failure the symptoms are controlled by medical therapy. In decompensated heart failure, symptoms persist despite usual therapy and are refractory to adjustments in drugs and dosages.
Treatment options for patients with chronic symptomatic systolic heart failure (NYHA functional class II–IV).