Heart failure, sometimes known as Congestive Heart Failure (CHF), occurs when the heart can't pump enough to the rest of the body. If the heart muscle cannot pump enough blood, it cannot meet the body's needs for blood and oxygen. The heart is a pump that circulates the blood throughout the body. When the pump begins to fail, the blood cannot move, which causes congestion in the lungs and extremities.
Nearly five million Americans are living with heart failure, and 550,000 new cases are diagnosed each year. Heart failure is a chronic and often progressive disease. Coronary artery disease is the most common cause of heart failure in the United States. Congenital heart disease, heart valve disease, cardiomyopathy, and high blood pressure can also cause heart failure. The more common forms of heart failure—those due to damage that has accumulated over time—cannot be cured. They can, however, be treated and oftentimes symptoms can be greatly decreased.
The best way to prevent heart failure is to control conditions that cause heart failure, such as coronary artery disease, high blood pressure, diabetes or obesity.
- Diastolic heart failure - the left ventricle, lower left chamber of the heart, does not fill with enough blood before it contracts.
- Systolic heart failure - the left ventricle, lower left chamber of the heart, pumps less blood than normal.
- Left-sided heart failure - the left side of the heart pumps less blood than normal.
- Right-sided heart failure - the right side of the heart pumps less blood than normal. This usually occurs as a result of left-sided failure.
Heart failure symptoms can be mild to severe depending on the stage of heart failure. Some symptoms may include:
- Shortness of breath
- Swelling in the feet, ankles and abdomen
- Rapid or abnormal heartbeats
- Weight gain
Treatments for Heart Failure
Heart failure is a chronic disease needing lifelong management. However, with treatment, signs and symptoms of heart failure can improve and the heart function can improve. Treatment may help you live longer and reduce your chance of dying suddenly. Doctors sometimes can correct heart failure by treating the underlying cause. For example, repairing a heart valve or controlling a fast heart rhythm may reverse heart failure. But for most people, the treatment of heart failure involves a balance of the right medications, and in some cases, devices that help the heart beat and contract properly.
Follow Up Care
Following recommendations about diet, exercise and other habits can help to alleviate symptoms, slow heart failure’s progression and improve everyday life. Our outpatient education program helps heart failure patients to understand their condition and what they can do to improve their daily life and overall outcomes. Nutrition, medication and lifestyle changes are the key highlights of the program.
- If you smoke, quit. Quitting smoking greatly reduces heart failure symptoms and helps improve outcomes.
- Regular exercise
- Control high blood pressure
- Control diabetes
- Limit alcohol use
- Maintain a healthy weight