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").

heart-failure
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.

Learn about Heart Failure

Clinical Guidelines for Heart Failure

To receive the best care for heart failure, talking frankly with your health care team is a good place to start. It’s also helpful to know about a resource published by health experts that outlines tr...

Heart Failure and Physical Activity

If you have heart failure, you may wonder if physical activity is good for you. How could putting more strain on your heart and making it work harder be a good thing? The heart is a muscle, and like o...

What is Heart Failure?

What is heart failure? Heart failure, also called congestive heart failure, is a condition in which the heart cannot pump enough oxygenated blood to meet the needs of the body's other organs. The hear...

Tracking Symptoms of Heart Failure

If you have heart failure (HF), becoming aware of even small changes in your body can help you manage your condition. Here are common symptoms of heart failure: Fluid retention. You may notice swellin...

Heart Failure: Breathe More Easily

One of the earliest symptoms of heart failure is shortness of breath. When your heart can't function well enough to pump the blood out of your heart, this causes blood to back up in the blood vessels ...

Heart Failure: Getting the Care You Need

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with heart failure, you probably have a lot of questions. What can I expect from treatment? What can I do to manage the condition? What kind of care will be ne...

Heart Failure: After Hospitalization

Being in the hospital for heart failure can be a difficult and frightening experience. Once you’re back at home, you may worry about your health. Here’s how you can stay healthy and prevent the proble...

Heart Transplantation Procedure

(Transplant-Heart, Heart Transplant, Cardiac Transplant) Procedure overview What is a heart transplant? A heart transplant is a surgical procedure performed to remove the diseased heart from a patient...

Heart Failure in Children

What is heart failure? Heart failure, also called congestive heart failure, is a condition in which the heart can't pump enough blood to meet the needs of the body's organs. The heart keeps pumping, b...

Heart Failure and Physical Activity

If you have heart failure, you may wonder if physical activity is good for you. How could putting more strain on your heart and making it work harder be a good thing? The heart is a muscle, and like o...

Learn about Heart Care

Cardiac Condition and Diseases

Many cardiac conditions require clinical care by a physician or other heart care professional. Listed in the directory below are some of these conditions, for which we have provided a brief overview. ...

What is Atrial Fibrillation?

What is atrial fibrillation? Normally, the heart pumps in a well-timed fashion. The two upper chambers (atria) contract first followed by the two lower chambers (ventricles). This coordinated pumping ...

Chest Pain- Does This Describe Your Symptoms?

Return to Index Does this describe your symptoms? Click image for more info Definition Uncomfortable pressure, fullness, squeezing, or other pain in the chest This includes the area from the clavicles...

How Much Do You Know About Coronary Artery Disease and Angioplasty?

How Much Do You Know About Coronary Artery Disease and Angioplasty? Coronary artery disease (CAD) plays a major role in the leading cause of death in this country: heart attack. CAD is also known as ...

High Blood Pressure/Hypertension

What is blood pressure? Blood pressure is the force of the blood pushing against the artery walls. The force is generated with each heartbeat as blood is pumped from the heart into the blood vessels. ...

What is an Arrhythmia?

What is an arrhythmia? An arrhythmia is an abnormal heart rhythm. Some arrhythmias can cause problems with contractions of the heart chambers by: Not allowing the ventricles (lower chambers) to fill w...

Heart Disease: How Disease Management Helps

Regular physical activity and a heart-healthy diet are two essential components of managing heart disease. On some days, though, it may be difficult to keep up with your exercise routine or meal plan....

High Cholesterol

Does this test have other names? High-density lipoprotein cholesterol What is this test? An HDL cholesterol test measures the amount of high-density lipoprotein ("good") cholesterol in your blood. Hig...

What is a Heart Attack?

What is a heart attack (myocardial infarction)? A heart attack, or myocardial infarction, occurs when one or more regions of the heart muscle experience a severe or prolonged lack of oxygen caused by ...

Carotid Artery Disease

What is carotid artery disease? Carotid artery disease, also called carotid artery stenosis, occurs when the carotid arteries, the main blood vessels that carry oxygenated blood to the brain, become n...

Cardiac Rehabilitation

What is cardiac rehabilitation? Cardiac rehabilitation is a program to help people who have heart disease. It is overseen by a health care provider. People in this program may have had a heart attack ...

Heart Valve Diseases

What are heart valves? The heart consists of four chambers--two atria (upper chambers) and two ventricles (lower chambers). There is a valve through which blood passes before leaving each chamber of t...

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.

echocardiogram

Echocardiogram

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

electroencephalography EEG

Electrocardiogram

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

nuclear-medicine

Nuclear Cardiology Tests

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

Treatments

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.

physician-with-older-male-patient

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.

menopause-care

Pacemaker Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator

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

Heart Transplant Surgery

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

Ventricular Assist Devices

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