Rosalyn Carson-DeWitt, MD
Understanding Heart Failure
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:
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.
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Last reviewed August 2014 by Michael J. Fucci, DO
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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