Congestive Heart Failure: Fast Facts

  • Congestive heart failure is a serious condition in which the heart is not pumping efficiently.
  • It is a chronic condition that is the result of other cardiac conditions.
  • Congestive heart failure does not mean the heart has completely stopped.
  • In the early stages, heart failure may not have any symptoms.
  • In the late stages of heart failure, the heart is unable to meet the body's demand for oxygen.
  • Late-stage heart failure may also cause congestion in the lungs or other problems throughout the body.
  • As a result of the lack of oxygen-rich blood flowing to the body, the heart tries to work harder, which only makes the problem worse
  • According to current statistics from the American Heart Association, there are about 5 million heart failure patients in the United States.
  • In the United States, 550,000 new cases of heart failure diagnosed every year.
  • Ten out of every 1,000 people over the age of 65 are diagnosed with congestive heart failure in the United States each year
  • Of newly diagnosed patients under the age of 65, about 80 percent of the men and 70 percent of the women will die within eight years.
  • In people diagnosed with heart failure, sudden cardiac death occurs at six to nine times the rate of the general population.
  • Congestive heart failure may be classified by the portion of the heart that it affects, by its involvement with the heart rhythm, by the symptoms that are present or by the progressive stage of the condition.
  • The two major underlying causes of the symptoms in heart failure are excess fluid accumulation in the lungs or elsewhere, and symptoms associated with reduced cardiac output that worsens with exertion
  • Symptoms of congestive heart failure may develop over a lengthy span of time, even over a period of years.
  • The diagnosis of congestive heart failure is usually based upon a medical history and complete physical examination.
  • The physical exam for heart failure includes a blood pressure check, listening to your heart through a stethoscope and taking your pulse.
  • Treatment for heart failure is generally designed to improve any symptoms, to slow progression of the heart failure and to prolong survival.
  • Doctors may also choose to treat the underlying conditions that contributed to the heart failure.
  • Most women with congestive heart failure are advised to make lifestyle changes regardless of the severity of their condition.
  • Lifestyle changes may include modifying your diet, limiting salt intake, achieving and maintaining a healthy weight, learning and practicing stress-management skills, quitting smoking and getting appropriate amounts of rest and activity.
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