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Heart failure does not mean the heart has stopped working. Rather, it means that the heart's pumping power is less effective than normal. Heart can’t pump enough oxygenated blood to meet the body’s needs. The heart keeps pumping, but not as efficiently as a healthy heart. Heart failure is the result of some other underlying condition.


  • Shortness of breath
  • Weight gain
  • Swelling of legs
  • Fatigue and weakness
  • Nausea, abdominal pain, loss of appetite


  • Coronary artery disease: Narrowing of the arteries that supply blood to the heart muscle.
  • Heart attack
  • Cardiomyopathy or heart muscle disease
  • Heart valve disease caused by past rheumatic fever or other infections
  • High blood pressure (hypertension)
  • Congenital heart disease or defects (present from birth)
  • Cardiac arrhythmias (irregular heartbeats)
  • Chronic lung disease, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • Pulmonary embolism (blood clot in the lungs); may also cause right heart failure
  • Anemia and excessive blood loss
  • Complications of diabetes, thyroid disease


  • Chest X-ray: 
  • Echocardiogram (also called echo)
  • Electrocardiogram (ECG)


  • Controlling risk factors
  • Treating underlying conditions
  • Medications:
  • Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors
  • Angiotensin II receptor blockers
  • Beta blockers
  • Diuretics
  • Aldosterone antagonists
  • Inotropes
  • Implanted devices that help the heart function more effectively



  • Renal failure
  • Decrease level of potassium in blood
  • Decrease level of sodium in blood
  • Irregular rhythms of heart
  • Liver damage