What is 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.
What causes heart failure?
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)
- previous heart attack(s) (myocardial infarction) – scar tissue from previous attacks may interfere with the heart muscle’s ability to work normally
- coronary artery disease – narrowed arteries that supply blood to the heart muscle
- cardiomyopathy – or another primary disease of the heart muscle
- congenital heart disease/defects (present at birth)
- cardiac arrhythmias (irregular heartbeats)
- chronic lung disease and pulmonary embolism
- drug-induced heart failure
- excessive sodium intake
- hemorrhage and anemia
Treatment for heart failure:
Specific treatment for heart failure will be determined by your physician based on:
- your age, overall health, and medical history
- extent of the disease
- your tolerance for specific medications, procedures, or therapies
- expectations for the course of the disease
- your opinion or preference