Heart Failure

The term heart failure may sound alarming, but it doesn’t mean the heart has “failed.” Instead, heart failure simply means the heart is not pumping as effectively as it should to meet the body’s need for blood and oxygen. High blood pressure and narrowed arteries in the heart can leave the heart too weak to handle its normal workload. Other causes of heart failure include faulty heart valves, infection, abnormal heart rhythms and myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle). The most common symptoms of heart failure include shortness of breath and reduced ability to exercise, as well as edema (swelling due to fluid buildup) in the legs and ankles. Treating heart failure usually involves a combination of medications, such as ACE inhibitors, beta blockers, diuretics and digoxin. Doctors will also try to treat the underlying cause of heart failure, such as replacing a diseased valve, if possible. In serious cases, an implanted heart pump, known as a left ventricular assist device, can help the heart meet its demands. Heart failure patients are advised to get some aerobic exercise, follow a...more

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