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.

Detection Methods

We have special expertise in screening patients for heart failure. You will have one or more tests that will provide more information about your heart, including its size and function.



An echocardiogram (echo for short) is a cardiac ultrasound that helps assess heart conditions.

electroencephalography EEG


An electrocardiogram is a procedure that records the electrical activity of the heart.


Nuclear Cardiology Tests

Nuclear cardiology tests measure the amount of blood flow to the heart muscle.


We treat heart failure by combining the use of medications, lifestyle changes, and procedures. Many different specialists will work together to improve your heart function and lengthen your life.


Heart Failure Management

Heart failure management is a comprehensive approach (medications, lifestyle changes, procedures, etc.) that improves the quality and length of your life with heart failure.


Pacemaker Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator

Pacemakers and Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator is a small device placed in the chest to help control your heartbeat.

Heart Transplant Surgery

A heart transplant replaces a severely diseased heart with a new heart from a human organ donor.

Ventricular Assist Devices

Ventricular assist devices are implantable pumps for patients with heart failure.

Learn about Heart Failure

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