(Congestive Heart Failure; Chronic Heart Failure; Left Ventricular Dysfunction; Left Ventricular Failure)
by Rosalyn Carson-DeWitt, MD
In heart failure, the heart is unable to pump the right amount of blood throughout the body. This causes blood to back up in the veins. Depending on which part of the heart is affected, this can lead to a buildup of excess fluid in the lungs, feet, and elsewhere. Heart failure can worsen with time, which may lead to the use of many treatments. Because of this, doctors are aggressive in treating heart failure to try to prevent it from worsening.
The leading causes of heart failure are:
Other common causes include:
Other less common causes include:
Risk Factors TOP
Factors that increase your chances of getting heart failure include:
The doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done.
Your bodily fluids may be tested. This can be done with:
Your heart may be examined. This can be done with:
Treatment of Condition Causing the Symptoms
Heart failure may be caused by another condition. Treating this condition should improve your heart failure or prevent it from getting worse.
The following lifestyle changes can help treat the symptoms of heart failure and slow down its progression:
Your doctor will most likely prescribe a combination of medicines, such as:
You may also be given medications to:
If heart failure worsens, you may need medical devices to help your heart pump blood properly. If you have heart failure, follow your doctor's instructions.
The best way to prevent heart failure is to reduce your risk of:
Take these steps to reduce your risk:
American College of Cardiology
American Heart Association
American Academy of Family Physicians
Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada
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Last reviewed September 2012 by Michael J. Fucci, DO
Last Updated: 3/21/2013