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(Congestive Heart Failure; Chronic Heart Failure; Left Ventricular Dysfunction; Left Ventricular Failure)
With 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
Heart failure is more common in older adults, men, and people of African American descent.
Factors that increase your chances of getting heart failure include:
You will be asked 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 medications, such as:
You may also be given medications to:
Your doctor may advise you to take supplements, such as coenzyme Q10. Follow your doctor's advice regarding taking any supplements.
If heart failure worsens, you may need medical devices to help your heart pump blood properly.
Note: Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen and naproxen can worsen your condition. Talk to your doctor about other medications you may be able to take.
The best way to prevent heart failure is to reduce your risk of:
Take these steps to reduce your risk:
American Heart Association
Heart Failure Association of America
Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada
Congestive heart failure and congenital defects. American Heart Association website. Available at:
Explore heart failure. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute website. Available at: https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/hf. Updated June 22, 2015. Accessed September 13, 2017.
Heart failure with reduced ejection fraction. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T114099/Heart-failure-with-reduced-ejection-fraction . Updated September 1, 2017. Accessed September 13, 2017.
Lifestyle changes for heart failure. American Heart Association website. Available at:
Paterna S, Parrinello G, Cannizzaro S, et al. Medium term effects of different dosage of diuretic, sodium, and fluid administration on neurohormonal and clinical outcome in patients with recently compensated heart failure. Am J Cardiol. 2009;103(1):93-102.
Physical changes to report. American Heart Association website. Available at:
Yancy CW, Jessup M, Bozkurt B, et al. 2013 ACCF/AHA guideline for the management of heart failure: a report of the American College of Cardiology Foundation/American Heart Association Task Force on Practice Guidelines. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2013;62(16):e147-e239.
4/16/2009 DynaMed Plus Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T114099/Heart-failure-with-reduced-ejection-fraction : Nilsson BB, Westheim A, Risberg MA. Effects of group-based high-intensity aerobic interval training in patients with chronic heart failure. Am J Cardiol. 2008;102(10):1361-1365.
7/6/2009 DynaMed Plus Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T170319/DASH-diet : Levitan EB, Wolk A, Mittleman MA. Consistency with the DASH diet and incidence of heart failure. Arch Intern Med. 2009;169:851-857.
8/31/2009 DynaMed Plus Systematic Literature Surveillance
11/25/2013 DynaMed Plus Systematic Literature Surveillance. http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T566763/Heart-failure-alternative-treatments : Madmani ME, Yusuf Solaiman A, Tamr Agha K, et al. Coenzyme Q10 for heart failure. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2014;(6):CD008684.
4/2/2014 DynaMed Plus Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T905359/Choosing-Wisely : Updated July 23, 2015.
1/18/2017 DynaMed Plus Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T113766/Coronary-artery-disease-possible-risk-factors : Emdin CA, Odutayo A, Wong CX, Tran J, Hsiao AJ, Hunn BH. Meta-analysis of anxiety as a risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Am J Cardiol. 2016;118(4):511-519.
Last reviewed September 2018 by
EBSCO Medical Review Board
Michael J. Fucci, DO, FACC
2545 Park Plaza
Telephone: (615) 344-6060
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