Congestive Heart Failure Home > Congestive Heart Failure

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Heart failure is a serious condition. About 5 million people in the United States have heart failure, and the number is growing. Each year, another 550,000 people are diagnosed for the first time. Congestive heart failure contributes to or causes about 300,000 deaths each year.

Congestive Heart Failure: Important Facts

Key information to keep in mind regarding congestive heart failure is as follows:
  • Congestive heart failure is a condition in which the heart cannot pump enough blood throughout the body.
  • This condition does not mean that your heart has stopped or is about to stop working. But it does mean that your heart is not able to pump blood the way that it should.
  • Congestive heart failure is a serious condition that develops over time as the pumping action of the heart grows weaker.
  • Congestive heart failure is caused by other diseases or conditions that damage or overwork the heart muscle.
  • The leading causes of this condition are coronary artery disease (CAD), high blood pressure, and diabetes.
  • About 5 million people in the United States have congestive heart failure. Each year, 550,000 new cases are diagnosed. Heart failure causes or contributes to about 300,000 deaths each year.
  • Congestive heart failure can happen to anyone, but is more common in people over 65 years of age, in women, and in African Americans.
  • The most common symptoms are shortness of breath; feeling tired; and swelling in the ankles, feet, legs, and sometimes the abdomen (stomach).
  • An echocardiogram is the most useful test used to diagnose congestive heart failure.
  • The treatments for this condition include lifestyle changes, medications, and specialized care for those with severe forms.
  • People with severe congestive heart failure are frequently admitted to the hospital.
  • If you have a disease or condition that makes heart failure more likely, you may be able to prevent it by controlling or treating the underlying disease or condition.
  • Congestive heart failure usually cannot be cured, and you will likely have to take medication for the rest of your life. It is important to know that your symptoms may get worse over time. As the condition progresses, you may not be able to do many of the things that you did before you had heart failure.
  • If you have severe congestive heart disease and symptoms at rest, you can expect your condition to get worse. It is important that you and your family discuss this and your final treatment options with your healthcare provider while you are still able to do so.
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Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
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