Any heart failure diagnosis is cause for concern, but did you know that there are actually different levels of heart failure?

Depending on its severity, your doctor is able to classify your symptoms of heart failure in order to provide the best treatment for your needs.

RELATED: Managing Heart Failure With A Healthy Lifestyle

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Heart Failure Classifications

The New York Heart Association developed the different classifications for heart failure to help doctors make treatment decisions based upon the symptoms and restrictions on physical activity you exhibit.

Class One Heart Failure

If your doctor assigns you to the first category, you have few limitations on physical activity. Whether you exercise regularly, play a sport, or are constantly on the go, there are no outward signs of heart problems. You do not experience fatigue, shortness of breath, or a rapid heartbeat.

Class Two Heart Failure

If you fall into this class, you may begin to experience the symptoms previously described, such as fatigue and heart palpitations, as your activity levels increase. You may not be able to participate as fully in your normal activities. These symptoms of heart failure, however, are not present while your body is at rest.

Class Three Heart Failure

Under the third classification of heart failure, your heart problems become increasingly apparent.

Your activity is significantly limited, and you experience shortness of breath and fatigue on a regular basis — and not just while performing increased physical activity. The only time you are able to find comfort is while you are resting.

Class Four Heart Failure

The fourth and final classification of heart failure is the most severe.

Even while you lie down or are at rest, symptoms persist. Any sort of activity causes a flare in symptoms and discomfort, creating a lifestyle that involves a complete limitation of physical activity.

Learn more about heart failure with this infographic

Next Steps in Your Treatment for Heart Failure

In addition to classifying the severity of heart failure based upon symptoms, physicians also refer to four different stages of heart failure to complete a comprehensive heart health evaluation. The stages are based on how quickly your symptoms of heart failure progress and develop over time.

Your doctor will determine your class of heart failure and appropriate treatment.

If you are experiencing shortness of breath, fatigue, or a rapid heart rate on a frequent basis, make an appointment with the UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute or visit one of our heart screening events in Pittsburgh for an evaluation.


About Heart and Vascular Institute

The UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute ranks among the best in the United States for complete cardiovascular care. U.S. News & World Report lists UPMC Presbyterian Shadyside as one of the top hospitals nationally for cardiology and heart surgery. We treat all manners of heart and vein conditions, from the common to the most complex. We are creating new medical devices and cutting-edge treatments that may not be available at other hospitals. We also offer screenings, free clinics, and education events in the community.