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Heart Failure

What is Heart Failure?

Heart failure is when your heart is not able to pump enough blood and oxygen to your body. When your heart is not pumping as well as it should, it can cause fluid to build up in your lungs and other parts of your body.

There are 2 main types of heart failure:

Some people are diagnosed with heart failure with recovered ejection fraction. This means that you have a history of heart failure where your heart had a problem pumping (you had reduced ejection fraction), but your heart has recovered and works well. Ask your doctor if medicine, regular appointments, or both are needed to manage your condition.

What Are the Signs of Heart Failure?

Common signs of heart failure include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Swollen ankles and legs
  • Sudden weight gain
  • Tiredness or loss of energy
  • A night-time cough caused by fluid build-up in the lungs

What Causes Heart Failure?

Heart failure has many causes:

  • Poor blood flow to your heart over a long period of time (sometimes from coronary artery disease)
  • Damage to your heart muscle from a heart attack
  • Years of untreated high blood pressure
  • Heart valve disorders
  • Uncontrolled arrhythmias (heart rhythm problems)
  • Toxins like alcohol or chemotherapy
  • Viral infections
  • Genetic conditions

When To Call Your Doctor

If you have heart failure it is important to call your doctor if you answer “yes” to 1 or more of the questions below:

  • Do you have increased shortness of breath?
  • Has your weight increased more than 2 pounds over 2 days, or 5 pounds in one week?
  • Do you have extreme swelling of your feet or legs?
  • Are you peeing (urinating) more often at night?

Follow your healthcare team’s instructions for managing your heart failure including taking medicines regularly, monitoring fluid intake, and avoiding excess salt.

How Is Heart Failure Treated?

While there is no cure for heart failure, the treatments below can help you live longer and improve your quality of life. Talk to your healthcare team about the best treatment options for you.


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