Heart Failure

Heart Failure is a serious condition the prevalence of which increases with age. Often the initial clinical symptom may be breathlessness or fatigue.

The term heart failure is used to describe a heart that fails to pump efficiently and the diagnosis is made based on clinical history and examination, an ECG, a chest X-ray, an echocardiogram and blood tests. There are a wide range of underlying causes for heart failure, the commonest being coronary artery disease. Other causes include hypertension, alcohol excess, heart valve disease, hereditary conditions and post viral cardiomyopathy. It is usually important to determine the cause and a number of tests can assist in this. These usually include blood tests, an ECG, an echocardiogram and a coronary angiogram. Other helpful tests may include a cardiac MRI scan and genetic tests. The treatment and prognosis is often dependent on the cause but many people respond well to careful treatment with heart failure medications (ACE inhibitors, beta blockers and diuretics) and some people benefit from a biventricular pacemaker implantation, currently there is exciting research being undertaken into stem cell therapy. Dr Hickman has a special clinical and research interest in heart failure and broad experience in caring for patients with heart failure.

Dr Hickman sees private and NHS patients referred by their general practitioners and a referral letter is usually required. In exceptional circumstances, due to the urgent and unpredictable nature of cardiac complaints, Dr Hickman will offer urgent appointments to private patients without a referral letter. A full report will subsequently be sent to their GP.