Heart Failure: Overview

Heart Failure is a weakly beating heart that is not adequate to maintain the body’s function. It usually refers to failure of the heart that is gradual and progressive. Note that heart failure is not the same as a heart attack, and does not mean that the heart has failed by stopping beating (cardiac arrest). There are different types of heart failure: left-side heart failure, right-side heart failure, and congestive cardiac failure (CCF). The main symptom of heart failure is breathing difficulty or shortness of breath, usually initially only on exertion or exercise. Patients may not notice this as a symptom, blaming aging or poor physical condition initially. As the heart failure worsens, the symptoms may become shortness of breath at rest, along with various additional symptoms such as pulmonary edema, generalized edema, swollen ankles, chronic cough, frequent urination, nocturia, tiredness, enlarged liver, bulging neck veins, and other symptoms. Causes and symptoms vary somewhat by type of heart failure.

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