Heart failure is a condition in which the heart can't pump blood effectively to the lungs or the rest of the body.
This can be because the person has developed a weakened heart muscle or because the heart muscle has thickened, making it difficult to fill the heart and backing up blood into the lungs.
With heart failure, the weakened heart pumps less blood than usual, causing the kidneys and adrenal glands to produce chemicals that help the body to hold onto salt and water.
In addition, the blood...
As part of your ongoing treatment, your doctor will also try to
prevent or treat problems—such as fever,
anemia—that can lead to
sudden heart failure. Treatment may include:
Getting vaccines. Your doctor may want you to get vaccines against
flu. These vaccines can keep you from getting
infections that could put you in the hospital.
Checking your weight. Your doctor will probably give you
guidelines for watching fluid buildup and tell you how much weight gain is too
Getting devices to fix heart rhythm problems. In some cases, your doctor may recommend a
biventricular pacemaker that can help your heart pump blood better. This is also called cardiac resynchronization therapy (CRT). Or you may
implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD) to stop a deadly rhythm. Some people get a pacemaker that is combined with an
Oxygen treatment. Your doctor may recommend
oxygen therapy to reduce your
shortness of breath and increase your ability to exercise.
You might take part in a disease management program. These programs include a broad range of services, such as education, home health care, visiting nurses, and rehabilitation.
A very small number of people may have other treatments, including:
Surgery to replace or repair a valve in your heart.
Cardiac rehabilitation, a supervised program that uses exercise, education, and support to help people recover from heart problems. For more
information, see the topic
heart failure can be fixed if another problem can be corrected, such as
by treating hyperthyroidism.
Because heart failure tends to get worse over
time, it's important to think about what kind of care you would like at the end
of your life. It's also important that your doctor and family know what you
An advance directive is a
legal document that tells doctors how to care for you at
the end of your life. To learn more, see