What Is High-Output Heart Failure?

Medically Reviewed by James Beckerman, MD, FACC on May 16, 2023
2 min read

High-output heart failure is rare. It's also very different from other types of the disorder.

Usually, if you have heart failure, your heart isn't pumping enough blood through your body to help it work the way it should. With the high-output version, it's pumping a normal amount of blood -- or even more than normal. Still, your body isn't getting enough to help it work well.

The things that lead to high-output heart failure are different from what brings other types of the condition. Many disorders make you need more blood to keep your organs working well. They include:

Common signs of high-output heart failure are similar to those of other types. They can include:

To figure out if you have heart failure, your doctor will:

  • Examine you
  • Ask about your medical history
  • Run some tests

Those tests might include:

Blood tests: Abnormal levels of important substances can show strain to organs due to heart failure.

Electrocardiogram (EKG): This records the electrical activity of your heart.

Chest X-ray: It will let your doctor know if you have an enlarged heart. It can also show congestion.

Echocardiogram: This uses sound waves to make a video image of your heart.

Exercise test: You may hear this called a stress test. It measures how your heart responds when it has to work hard.

Heart catheterization: In this test, you get dye injected through a small tube into a blood vessel. It will show any blockages or weakened arteries.

Many of the causes of high-output heart failure are curable. It's a good idea to treat the underlying cause first.

Your doctor may suggest other treatments, including a diet low in salt and water. You may also take diuretics (water pills) to help ease swelling.

Taking traditional heart failure drugs will often not help. They can make things worse. There are medicines called vasoconstrictor adrenergics that can help by making your blood vessels smaller.