Heart Failure Vs. Congestive Heart Failure

Heart failure is a serious and potentially life-threatening condition. Heart failure is also referred to as congestive heart failure (CHF) which means your heart is unable to pump enough blood to satisfy your body's requirements. According to the National Institute of Health, about 5 million people in the U.S. have heart failure. It is a factor in 300,000 deaths annually.

  1. Defining Heart Failure

    • The NIH says heart failure does not mean that you have had a heart attack or that your heart is on the verge of stopping. It means your heart's ability to pump blood has weakened. This decline in ability can cause blood and fluid to collect in the lungs and cause numerous signs and symptoms that can have a negative impact on the quality of life.


    • There are several symptoms that can indicate congestive heart failure. They include weakness or fatigue, a lack of appetite, nausea, a rapid or irregular heartbeat, shortness of breath and less ability to exercise.

      Symptoms of CHF may also include swelling in your abdomen, legs, ankles and feet. You may experience concentration problems and become less able to remain alert.

    Causes of CHF

    • According to the American Heart Association the leading causes of congestive heart failure (CHF) or heart failure are previous heart attacks, congenital heart defects (present at birth) or heart valve disease (when one or more of your heart valves don't function properly).

    Preventing CHF

    • The Mayo Clinic says the best way to avert heart failure is to reduce your risk factors and manage any core conditions. These may include high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity.

    Diagnosing Heart Disease

    • Your doctor can determine whether you suffer from heart failure based on your symptoms, a physical exam, blood tests and X-rays.

      You may also undergo an electrocardiogram (ECG). This test monitors the electrical activity of your heart through electrodes attached to your skin. An ECG can identify heart rhythm problems and possible damage to your heart caused by a heart attack


    • Many of the conditions that result in heart failure cannot be undone but CHF can be successfully treated.

      Certain medications can ease some of the symptoms of heart failure and help lengthen survival. The AHA says these include beta blockers, diuretics and blood thinners.

      Basic lifestyle changes such as exercising, reducing stress and lowering salt intake can help stop fluid buildup and improve quality of life.

    Acute Heart Failure

    • Acute heart failure is considered to be an emergency and requires immediate medical attention. It occurs when something abruptly impairs your heart's capacity to function. The symptoms of acute heart failure are similar to CHF but are more severe and can flare up without warning.

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