Heart failure is a chronic and progressive condition in which the heart muscle is
unable to pump blood through the heart to meet the body's need for blood and oxygen.
The term "heart failure" may sound like the heart is no longer working at all and there's nothing that can be done. Actually, heart failure simply means that the heart isn't pumping as well as it should be. However, prompt medical treatment can make the condition easier to live with.
Heart failure develops over time as the pumping of the heart grows weaker. It can affect the right side of the heart only or both the left and right sides of the heart. Most cases involve both sides of the heart.
Your body depends on the heart's pumping action to deliver oxygen- and nutrient-rich blood to the body's cells. When the cells are nourished properly, the body can function normally.
With heart failure, the weakened heart can't supply the cells with enough blood. This results in fatigue and shortness of breath. Everyday activities, such as walking, climbing stairs or carrying groceries can become very difficult.
At first the heart tries to make up for heart failure by enlarging, developing more muscle mass and pumping faster. The body tries to compensate in other ways, as well. Eventually, heart failure worsens until these substitute processes no longer work and the heart and body can't keep up.
Heart Failure Information for Patients