Congestive Heart Failure (CHF)

Definition

Congestive heart failure (CHF) occurs when a poorly pumping heart causes build up of blood or fluid in the lungs. Signs of CHF include trouble breathing, especially while lying flat or during exertion. Swelling of the hands and feet is also common.

Causes

Common causes of CHF include lack of adequate blood and oxygen supply to the heart muscle (cardiac ischemia) and chronic high blood pressure (hypertension). CHF can also occur following a heart attack (myocardial infarction) and with cardiomyopathy.

Treatment

Doctors perform tests on the heart to decide which treatment is best. Sometimes medication is needed to help the heart pump better.

Comments

CHF cannot be cured, but the patient's symptoms and quality of life can often be dramatically improved with proper treatment.

Related Links

National Library of Medicine
Interactive Tutorial
The National Library of Medicine presents information and pictures about CHF.