Classes of Heart Failure

Updated:Dec 17,2014

Doctors usually classify patients' heart failure according to the severity of their symptoms. The table below describes the most commonly used classification system, the New York Heart Association (NYHA) Functional Classification. It places patients in one of four categories based on how much they are limited during physical activity.

ClassFunctional Capacity: How a patient with cardiac disease feels during physical activity
IPatients with cardiac disease but resulting in no limitation of physical activity. Ordinary physical activity does not cause undue fatigue, palpitation, dyspnea or anginal pain.
IIPatients with cardiac disease resulting in slight limitation of physical activity. They are comfortable at rest. Ordinary physical activity results in fatigue, palpitation, dyspnea or anginal pain.
IIIPatients with cardiac disease resulting in marked limitation of physical activity. They are comfortable at rest. Less than ordinary activity causes fatigue, palpitation, dyspnea or anginal pain.
IVPatients with cardiac disease resulting in inability to carry on any physical activity without discomfort. Symptoms of heart failure or the anginal syndrome may be present even at rest.  If any physical activity is undertaken, discomfort increases.


ClassObjective Assessment
ANo objective evidence of cardiovascular disease. No symptoms and no limitation in ordinary physical activity.
BObjective evidence of minimal cardiovascular disease. Mild symptoms and slight limitation during ordinary activity. Comfortable at rest.
CObjective evidence of moderately severe cardiovascular disease. Marked limitation in activity due to symptoms, even during less-than-ordinary activity. Comfortable only at rest.
DObjective evidence of severe cardiovascular disease. Severe limitations. Experiences symptoms even while at rest.

For Example:
  • A patient with minimal or no symptoms but a large pressure gradient across the aortic valve or severe obstruction of the left main coronary artery is classified:
    • Function Capacity I, Objective Assessment D
  • A patient with severe anginal syndrome but angiographically normal coronary arteries is classified:
    • Functional Capacity IV, Objective Assessment A

       

Heart Failure Questions to Ask Your Doctor

Questions to ask your doctor

Use these questions to ask your doctor about heart failure.


Heart Failure

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