Heart Failure Facts

Heart failure, also called congestive heart failure, is a condition in which the heart cannot pump enough oxygenated blood to meet the needs of the body's other organs. Learn More ›

Heart Failure

Heart failure, also called congestive heart failure, is a condition in which the heart cannot pump enough oxygenated blood to meet the needs of the body's other organs. The heart keeps pumping, but not as efficiently as a healthy heart. Usually, the loss in the heart's pumping action is a symptom of an underlying heart problem. Nearly 5.7 million Americans are living with heart failure, and 670,000 new cases are diagnosed each year.

Heart failure may result from any/all of the following:

  • heart valve disease - caused by past rheumatic fever or other infections

  • high blood pressure (hypertension)

  • infections of the heart valves and/or heart muscle (i.e., endocarditis)

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Treatment: Getting the Care You Need

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with heart failure, you probably have a lot of questions. What can I expect from treatment? What can I do to manage the condition? What kind of care will be needed in the future? It's important to have an open and honest discussion with your health care provider about these concerns. These tips can help you make sure your needs are met.

It's important to ask your provider questions during your visit to make sure you understand your condition and what your treatment involves. If you're uncomfortable doing so, it might help to bring a list of questions with you. You can give the list to your provider or use it to jog your memory during the visit. You'll probably want answers to questions such as these:

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Live Well with Congestive Heart Failure

Heart failure (HF) occurs when the heart fails to pump enough blood to the rest of the body. Heart failure is caused by diseases or conditions that damage or overwork the heart muscle. These include uncontrolled coronary artery disease, high blood pressure, diseases of the heart valves, diseases of heart muscle, arrhythmias (abnormal heart beats), and diabetes.

Heart failure occurs when the diminished pumping capacity of the heart causes blood to back up in the veins and fluid to back up in the lungs. The fluid often causes swollen ankles and weight gain, the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute says. It can also lead to fatigue and shortness of breath, especially when lying down. Heart failure can also affect how well your kidneys work.

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Your Guide to Heart Failure


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Heart failure is the condition in which the heart stops beating.