Heart failure

Heart failure is not a heart attack and does not mean the heart has stopped working. Heart failure is a progressive disorder in which damage to the heart causes weakening of the cardiovascular system. It manifests by fluid congestion or inadequate blood flow to tissues. Heart failure progresses by underlying heart injury or inappropriate responses of the body to heart impairment. The weakened heart is characterized by dilated pumping chambers and thinning of the walls as can be seen in the picture below.

Heart failure may result from one or the sum of many causes. It is a progressive disorder that must be managed in regard to not only the state of the heart, but the condition of the circulation, lungs, neuroendocrine system and other organs as well. Furthermore, when other conditions are present (e.g. kidney impairment, hypertensions, vascular disease, or diabetes) it can be more of a problem. Finally, the impacts it can have on a patient psychologically and socially are important as well.

Heart failure is a cumulative consequence of all insults to the heart over someone's life. It is estimated that nearly 5 million Americans have heart failure. The prevalence of heart failure approximately DOUBLES with each decade of life. As people live longer, the occurrence of heart failure rises, as well as other conditions that complicate its treatment. Even when symptoms are absent or controlled, impaired heart function implies a reduced duration of survival. Fortunately, many factors that can prevent heart failure and improve outcome are known and can be applied at any stage.

Useful links

Heart Failure Online
Information as to what CHF is, how the heart works, living with CHF, as well as symptoms, tests and other related topics.

Heart Failure Association of the European Society of Cardiology
The HFA of the ESC was launched in August 2004 and replaced the former ESC Working Group on Heart Failure. The HFA was founded to create a broad European platform, where anybody interested or actively involved in managing the growing burden of heart failure can meet, interact and network.

American Heart Association
Learn more about congestive heart failure, its treatment, and ways to cope with stress and the disease.

Mayo Clinic
Mayo Clinic's web sites provide information and services from the world's first and largest integrated, not-for-profit group medical practice.