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About Congestive Heart Failure
Welcome to the Heart Failure Health Channel by eMedTV. Congestive heart failure (CHF) is a condition where the heart cannot pump enough blood through the body. In CHF, the heart either can't fill with enough blood or doesn't pump with enough force, or both. This condition is called "congestive" heart failure because the heart's inability to pump correctly can cause blood and fluid to back up into the lungs (or build up in the lower extremities) -- causing shortness of breath and other symptoms.
Causes of Congestive Heart Failure
Congestive heart failure is frequently caused by coronary artery disease, high blood pressure, or diabetes. A few other causes of congestive heart failure can include diseases of the heart muscle or valves, irregular heart rhythms, drug or alcohol abuse, or thyroid disorders.
Symptoms of Congestive Heart Failure
Symptoms of congestive heart failure are related to the buildup of fluid in the lungs and in other areas of the body. Some of the most common symptoms of congestive heart failure include shortness of breath, cough, and swelling/weight gain. Other symptoms can include fatigue and limitations on physical activity.
Refractory Congestive Heart Failure
Refractory congestive heart failure is a severe form of heart failure. Refractory congestive heart failure is generally expected to get worse and eventually lead to death. However, people with very severe refractory heart failure may be considered for a mechanical heart pump or a heart transplant.
Who Is at Risk for Congestive Heart Failure?
Heart failure risks are increased in men, African Americans, and those over the age of 65. However, children born with congenital heart disease are also at higher risk for developing congestive heart failure.
Treatment of Congestive Heart Failure
Treatment of congestive heart failure is generally focused on treating the underlying causes of the condition and stopping its progress, improving symptoms, and prolonging life. Lifestyle changes and medications are the primary forms of this treatment.
African Americans With Congestive Heart Failure
Blacks with congestive heart failure may find that a new drug (BiDil®) helps relieve their symptoms. In a clinical study, black patients on BiDil experienced a 43 percent reduction in death and a 39 percent decrease in hospitalization for heart failure, while there was no evidence of benefit in the white population.
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