Heart failure is a condition in which the heart is "fails" to pump
blood through either the lungs or the body at the necessary rate.
Many people believe that failure of the heart means that the heart has stopped beating or that heart failure means imminent death. Both of these myths are incorrect. During heart failure the heart continues to beat, just not efficiently enough to keep the blood from becoming congested in certain areas of the body. Less than half of the people who experience persistent heart failure die within 3 years.
failure has such a multitude of causes that it is often classified as symptom.
The most common causes are coronary disease
and high blood pressure. Other causes include diabetes, anemia, alcohol abuse,
In normal circulation the heart pumps blood evenly throughout circulation. In patients with heart failure certain parts of circulation become congested with blood. Since heart failure can effect either the left or the right side of the heart there are two sets of symptoms.
If heart failure affects the left side then the heart cannot continue to pump blood through the body fast enough to keep up with the blood that comes in from the lungs. Blood slowly builds up in the lungs and as the congestion increases the increased pressure causes fluid to collect in the lungs, which can cause breathlessness.
on the other hand, heart failure affects the right side then the heart cannot
continue to pump blood through the lungs as fast as it is comes in from the
veins. Blood slowly builds up in the veins and as the congestion increases the
increased pressure forces fluid into the surrounding tissues, causing edema.
Treatments include drugs which lower blood pressure and the strain on the heart (ACE inhibitors), drugs which increase the strength of the contractions of the heart (cardiac glycosides), or drugs which drain the fluids accumulated by heart failure (diuretics).
Often, heart failure can be stopped by providing treatment for the underlying cause. For example, heart failure caused by coronary artery disease can be cured by performing cardiac bypass surgery.