Overview of Heart Failure
Heart failure is a condition in which your heart can't pump enough blood to meet your body's needs. It frequently involves congestion (blood and fluids backing up in your system). Key symptoms may include shortness of breath, a dry and hacking cough, weight gain, swelling, and fatigue.
Heart failure develops because the heart muscle becomes weak or loses the ability to pump correctly. If the heart is not "squeezing" well to get enough blood to your body, you have systolic heart failure. If the heart can't "relax" to fill with enough blood between contractions, you have diastolic heart failure.
Heart failure is often caused by other conditions, such as atherosclerosis, heart attack, high blood pressure, heart valve problems, and alcohol or drug abuse. Heart muscle weakening and damage is often called cardiomyopathy, which literally means "heart muscle disease." Sometimes the damage occurs for no known reason. This is called idiopathic cardiomyopathy (idiopathic means "no known cause").
With heart failure, initial damage weakens the heart muscle. To compensate, your heart beats faster and enlarges (stretches or thickens). Over time, the heart muscle begins to wear out.
Heart Failure In Depth
Learn more about heart failure from Intermountain's Patient Education Library:
Treatments for Heart Failure
Your doctor will discuss your treatment options with you. Possible treatments for heart failure include:
Services and Programs
Services and programs at Intermountain Heart Institute for patients with heart failure:
Intermountain Heart Institute currently has one or more clinical trials that are enrolling patients with heart failure. Learn more about our clinical trials for heart failure.