Congestive Heart Failure
Heart failure, also called congestive heart failure, happens when the heart cannot pump enough blood efficiently throughout the body. This does not mean that the heart has stopped, but it that cannot pump blood to meet the body’s needs. The heart keeps pumping, but not as efficiently as a healthy heart. Usually, the heart’s diminished capacity to pump reflects a progressive, underlying condition.
Heart failure may result from heart valve disease caused by past rheumatic fever or other infections; high blood pressure (hypertension); active infections of the heart valves and/or heart muscle (for example, endocarditis or myocarditis); or previous heart attacks, to name a few. Heart failure may also be caused by certain medications, excessive sodium (salt) intake; anemia and excessive blood loss; and complications of diabetes.
Heart failure interferes with the kidney’s normal function of eliminating excess sodium and waste products from the body. In congestive heart failure, the body retains more fluid, resulting in swelling of the ankles and legs. Fluid also collects in the lungs, which can cause profound shortness of breath.
Treatment of heart failure may include controlling risk factors; use of medications; implantable cardioverter defibrillator; heart transplant or ventricular assist devices (VADs).Previous Page Last Review Date: August 14, 2019