Rosalyn Carson-DeWitt, MD
What is Heart 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:
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:
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 College of Cardiology
American Heart Association
Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada
ACCF/AHA Guidelines for the Diagnosis and Management of Heart Failure in Adults. A Report of the American College of Cardiology Foundation/American Heart Association Task Force on Practice Guidelines.
Congestive heart failure and congenital defects. American Heart Association website. Available at:
http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/CongenitalHeartDefects/TheImpactofCongenitalHeartDefects/Congestive-Heart-Failure_UCM_307111_Article.jsp#.WEWiT02QwdU. Updated January 24, 2011. Accessed September 29, 2014.
Explore heart failure. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute website. Available at:
https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/hf. Accessed March 27, 2014. Accessed September 29, 2014.
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-fractionhttp://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T114099/Heart-failure-with-reduced-ejection-fraction. Updated November 22, 2016. Accessed December 5, 2016.
Hunt, SA, Abraham, WT, Chin, MH, et al. ACC/AHA 2005 Guideline Update for the diagnosis and management of chronic heart failure in the adult: a report of the American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association Task Force on Practice Guidelines.
Lifestyle changes for heart failure. American Heart Association website. Available at:
http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/HeartFailure/PreventionTreatmentofHeartFailure/Lifestyle-Changes-for-Heart-Failure_UCM_306341_Article.jsp#.WEWi1k2QwdU. Updated September 20, 2012. Accessed September 29, 2014.
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.
Physical changes to report. American Heart Association website. Available at:
http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/HeartFailure/PreventionTreatmentofHeartFailure/Physical-Changes-to-Report_UCM_306356_Article.jsp. Updated June 30, 2014. Accessed September 29, 2014.
4/16/2009 DynaMed Plus Systematic Literature Surveillance
http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T114099/Heart-failure-with-reduced-ejection-fractionhttp://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~T114476/Antihypertensive-medication-selection-and-management: 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
http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed: Djoussé L, Driver JA, Gaziano JM. http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T474271/Heart-failure-screening-and-prevention. JAMA. 2009;302(4):394-400.
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~T116156/Coronary-artery-disease-CAD: 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 2016 by Michael J. Fucci, DO, FACC
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