Heart failure, also known as congestive heart failure, occurs when the heart muscle does not pump enough blood around the body. Around 5.7 million adults in the United States have heart failure, according to figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Heart failure may be a chronic ongoing condition or an acute condition that starts suddenly. There are four main types of heart failure, left-sided, right-sided, systolic, and diastolic heart failure.
Common symptoms of heart failure are shortness of breath during daily activities; problems breathing when reclining; gaining weight and fluid retention; edema (swelling) in the legs, feet, ankles, and stomach; angina (chest pain); and a general feeling of tiredness or weakness. If you experience chest pain, fainting, severe weakness, an irregular heartbeat, or shortness of breath, it is important to seek emergency treatment.
The risk of heart failure is increased by certain diseases and medical conditions, such as coronary heart disease, high blood pressure, myocarditis (inflammation of heart muscle), arrhythmia, heart defects, and diabetes. Lifestyle and behavioral factors may also increase risk, for example, smoking, obesity, lack of physical activity, and a poor diet high in fat, cholesterol, and sodium.
Treatment of heart failure depends on the severity of the condition but may include addressing the underlying causes. This could involve lifestyle changes such as losing weight and a better diet, but medication, surgery, and transplants are also likely to be required. Drug classes commonly used to treat heart failure are angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitors/ACEIs, thiazide diuretics, loop diuretics, beta-blockers with alpha blockade, aldosterone antagonists, angiotensin-II receptor blockers/ARBs, plain cardiac glycosides, thiazide diuretics, other potassium-sparing diuretics, and other cardiovascular products.