Get answers to your Heart Failure questions.
CHF; Congestive heart failure; Left-sided heart failure; Right-sided heart failure - Cor pulmonale; Cardiomyopathy - heart failure
Heart failure is a condition in which the heart can no longer pump enough blood to the rest of the body.
Heart failure is a long-term (chronic) condition, but it can sometimes develop suddenly.
The condition may affect only the right side or only the left side of the heart. These are called right-sided heart failure or left-sided heart failure. More often, both sides of the heart are involved.
Heart failure is present when:
Both of these problems mean the heart is no longer able to pump enough oxygen-rich blood out to the rest of your body, especially when you exercise or are active.
As the heart's pumping action is lost, blood may back up in other areas of the body. Fluid builds up in the lungs, liver, gastrointestinal tract, and the arms and legs. This is called congestive heart failure.
The most common cause of heart failure is coronary artery disease (CAD), a narrowing of the small blood vessels that supply blood and oxygen to the heart. For information on this condition and its risk factors, see: Heart disease - risk factors
Heart failure can also occur when an infection weakens the heart muscle. This condition is called cardiomyopathy. For more information, see: Cardiomyopathy
Other heart problems that may cause heart failure are:
Other diseases that can cause or contribute to heart failure:
Emanuel LL, Bonow RO. Care of patients with end-stage heart disease. In: Bonow RO, Mann DL, Zipes DP, Libby P, eds. Braunwald's Heart Disease: A Textbook of Cardiovascular Medicine. 9th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 34.
Mann DL. Management of heart failure patients with reduced ejection fraction. In: Bonow RO, Mann DL, Zipes DP, Libby P, eds. Braunwald's Heart Disease: A Textbook of Cardiovascular Medicine. 9th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 28.
Jessup M, Abraham WT, Casey DE, Feldman AM, Francis GS, Ganiats TG, et al. 2009 focused update: ACCF/AHA Guidelines for the Diagnosis and Management of Heart Failure in Adults: a report of the American College of Cardiology Foundation/American Heart Association Task Force on Practice Guidelines: developed in collaboration with the International Society for Heart and Lung Transplantation. Circulation. 2009 Apr 14;119(14):1977-2016. Epub 2009 Mar 26.
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