What Is Congestive Heart Failure?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are about 5.7 million people in the United States with congestive heart failure. In approximately one of every nine deaths, congestive heart failure is a contributing cause. In about half of all cases, a heart failure diagnosis leads to death within five years. So, what is congestive heart failure?


Congestive heart failure is also known as heart failure. It is a condition in which the heart is not able to efficiently pump enough blood to sustain the rest of the body. This condition develops when the heart can’t sufficiently contract. When this happens, blood returns to the heart faster than it can be pumped out again, causing the heart to become congested. The end result is that other organs do not receive enough oxygen-rich blood.

Congestive Heart Failure Symptoms


Heart failure is a condition that may develop slowly over time (chronic heart failure) or appear suddenly (acute heart failure). Signs of congestive heart failure can include any of the following symptoms.

Fast or irregular heartbeat

+ Swelling in the legs and feet (edema)

+ Increased urination at night

+ Cough or wheezing with white or pink phlegm

+ Shortness of breath after physical exertion (dyspnea)

+ Swelling of the abdomen

+ Weakness and fatigue

+ Nausea and lack of appetite

+ Sudden weight gain and fluid retention

+ Severe shortness of breath with foamy pink mucus

If you experience any of these symptoms, you should talk to your doctor. You should seek emergency medical attention if you experience an irregular heartbeat accompanied by shortness of breath, chest pains, fainting, or if you are coughing up foamy, pink mucus.

Congestive Heart Failure Causes


Congestive heart failure is often, but not necessarily, caused by another underlying condition that damages or weakens the heart. Any of the following problems can lead to the development of heart failure.

Heart attack and coronary artery disease

+ High blood pressure (hypertension)

+ Damage to the heart muscle (cardiomyopathy)

+ Congenital heart defects

+ Faulty heart valves

+ Heart arrhythmias

+ Inflammation of the heart muscle (myocarditis)

+ Chronic conditions like diabetes, HIV, or hypothyroidism

In some cases, heart failure can develop without a prior condition. The heart’s ventricles sometimes stiffen, reducing their ability to properly fill with blood between beats.

Treatment For Congestive Heart Failure


There is no cure for heart failure. Treatment methods relieve symptoms and slow the progression of further damage.

Treatment typically includes healthy lifestyle habits like not smoking, following a heart-healthy diet, and maintaining a healthy weight. Additionally, your doctor might take more specific steps designed to improve heart function, reduce blood clotting, and correct fluid retention problems.

In more severe cases, you may need surgical procedures to open or bypass blocked arteries, or even replace heart valves. As heart transplant is the last resort.

As with most serious medical conditions, the best defense is to take steps toward prevention. By forming healthy lifestyle habits and talking regularly with your doctor, you can delay or even prevent the onset of congestive heart failure.