Healthcare: Cardiovascular Medicine

Heart Failure FAQs


What is heart failure?
Heart failure means that the heart is not functioning properly and is unable to pump enough blood to meet all of the body’s needs. Heart failure causes muscles to weaken which hinders proper blood circulation through the body. This can cause weakness and fatigue, and blood to back up which can cause fluid to leak from the blood vessels into tissues, causing congestion.

What causes heart failure?
Diseases that weaken the heart muscles can cause heart failure, such as heart attack, high blood pressure, infection of the heart muscle, heart valve disease, and diabetes. Genetic structural diseases can also cause heart failure.

What medical conditions contribute to heart failure?
Conditions such as coronary artery disease (heart attacks), high blood pressure, heart valve disease, toxins including alcohol, viral infections (myocarditis), pulmonary hypertension, congenital heart disease, and genetic diseases (cardiomyopathy) can cause heart failure. Conditions such as diabetes, HIV infection, hyperthyroidism, amyloidosis, sleep apnea, and obesity also increase the risk of heart failure.

What are the symptoms?
Heart failure symptoms include shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, coughing, worsening fatigue and tiredness, weakness, swelling in the legs or feet, and weight gain.

How is heart failure diagnosed?
If your physician suspects heart failure, they can review your medical history, perform blood tests and physical examination, and order x‐rays, electrocardiograms, stress tests, cardiac MRI, and other tests to determine a diagnosis.

What are the treatments?
There are multiple options for heart failure treatment. Several medications can help alleviate symptoms of heart failure. If the disease has worsened to advanced heart failure stages, your physician can suggest appropriate treatments based of the best care plan for you, such as a defibrillator or pacemaker, LVAD, bypass surgery, and heart transplantation.