About Heart Failure

Heart failure, also called congestive heart failure or CHF, does not mean your heart has stopped working. It does mean, however, that your heart is not working as efficiently as it should. In patients with heart failure, the heart’s pumping power is weakened. It cannot pump sufficient blood and oxygen throughout the body.

Heart failure is a common condition, affecting 5.7 million Americans. Use our online tool to assess your risk of heart disease.

Causes of Heart Failure

Heart failure can be caused by a number of factors. Some of these a patient can control and some they cannot. Causes of heart failure include:

  • Coronary heart disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Valvular Heart Disease
  • Arrhythmias

The lifestyle factors that increase your risk of heart attack and stroke can also contribute to heart failure. These include smoking, being overweight, eating foods high in fat and cholesterol, and physical inactivity.

Patients with conditions such as heart defects and heart muscle diseases can also be at risk for heart failure.

Heart Failure Symptoms

Sometimes, patients do not experience any heart failure symptoms despite a weakened heart muscle. Other times, the symptoms can range from mild to severe. Symptoms can include:

  • Lung congestion (shortness of breath, dry hacking cough)
  • Fluid retention, leading to swollen legs, ankles and abdomen
  • Dizziness, fatigue and weakness
  • Fast or irregular heartbeat

If you experience any of these symptoms, make an appointment with a cardiologist. Our heart specialists will provide you with the accurate diagnosis you need to begin treatment.