Compare plans today.


What are the Four Stages of Heart Failure?

Christian Worstell

by Christian Worstell | Published December 21, 2023 | Reviewed by John Krahnert

There are four stages of heart failure: A, B, C and D. 

A healthy heart can help you better manage your overall health, including your blood pressure, cholesterol and insulin levels. If you've been diagnosed with an early stage of heart failure, it's not too late to begin reversing its effects. Here, we'll evaluate the four stages of heart failure and explain how to treat each one.

The 4 Stages of Heart Failure

The four stages of heart failure range from mild to severe:

Stage A

Stage A is considered pre-heart failure. Individuals diagnosed with Stage A heart failure usually have one or more of the following:

  • Hypertension
  • Coronary heart disease
  • Diabetes
  • Metabolic syndrome
  • A family history of cardiomyopathy

Treatment options for Stage A heart failure include:

  • Regular exercise
  • Quitting smoking
  • Treatment for high blood pressure

Stage B

Stage B is also considered pre-heart failure. In Stage B, an individual is usually diagnosed with a systolic left ventricular dysfunction, but may not show any symptoms. Additionally, people in Stage B generally have had an echocardiogram showing an ejection fraction of up to 40%.

Treatments for Stage B heart failure include:

Stage C

During Stage C, an individual usually shows clear symptoms of heart failure, including those listed in the symptoms section above.

Treatments for Stage C heart failure include:

  • The same treatments used for Stages A and B
  • Lifestyle changes such as reducing your sodium intake
  • The use of a biventricular pacemaker or implantable cardiac defibrillator

Stage D

Stage D heart failure is the most severe heart failure stage. Stage D is used to describe patients who’ve undergone treatments for the first three stages with no improvement. Treatments for stage D heart failure include:

  • A heart transplant
  • Continuous infusion of inotropic drugs
  • Palliative or hospice care

Symptoms of Heart Failure

The term heart failure doesn’t mean your heart has stopped working. Rather, heart failure means that your heart isn’t pumping blood as well as it should. Some general symptoms of heart failure include:

  • Shortness of breath. Heart failure may make it difficult to breathe while exercising or while lying flat on your back.
  • Fatigue. If you’re active and feel weakness in your legs, your heart may not be pumping enough blood to your cells.
  • Swelling throughout your body. Swelling in your legs, ankles, or abdomen may be a sign that your kidneys are not filtering enough blood.
  • Urinating at night. Heart failure may cause your kidneys to produce extra urine at night.
  • Rapid heartbeats. Your heart may beat faster to help pump more blood to major organs or muscles.

Medicare Coverage

Diagnoses and treatment of all four heart failure stages will likely be covered under Original Medicare. However, you will still be responsible for some of Medicare's out-of-pocket costs, including deductibles, copayments and coinsurance. 

A Medicare Supplement Insurance plan may help cover some of these out-of-pocket costs. To learn more about the Medicare Supplement Insurance plans available to you, speak with a licensed agent today at 1-800-995-4219.

More Health Information for Seniors

We've published articles on a wide range of health topics for seniors. Read through some of them below.


Resource Center

Email newsletter

Get a Free Medicare Guide!

Enter your email address and get a free guide to Medicare and Medicare Supplement Insurance, as well as important Medicare news and tips. We promise to never send you spam – just helpful content!

By clicking "Get your guide" you are agreeing to receive emails from

We've been helping people find their perfect Medicare plan for over 11 years.

Ready to find your plan?

Or chat about my options with an agent