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Congestive Heart Failure

Heart failure affects about 5 million Americans and is the leading cause of hospitalization in people over 65 years of age. Roughly 550,000 people are diagnosed with heart failure each year. The CVM providers are experts in the treatment of heart failure.

What is heart failure?
Heart failure is also known as congestive heart failure or CHF. There are different types of heart failure. In some cases, the heart cannot pump enough blood to meet the needs of the body. The heart muscle becomes weak and the main pumping chambers (ventricles) stretch to the point that the heart can't pump blood efficiently. In other cases, the ventricles become stiff and do not fill properly between beats. The term "congestive heart failure" comes from blood backing up, or congesting, in the liver, abdomen, lower extremities and lungs.

What causes heart failure?
There are many different causes of heart failure. Some of these causes include coronary artery disease, high blood pressure, faulty heart valves, infections, and congenital heart defects. Coronary artery disease is the most common cause of heart failure. Over time, the vessels that supply blood to your heart muscle narrow from a buildup of fatty deposits. This deprives the heart muscle of blood and can cause it to become weak or damaged. High blood pressure causes the heart to work harder to circulate blood. This causes the heart muscle to thicken and eventually it can become stiff and weak. The valves of your heart keep blood flowing in the proper direction. A damaged valve forces the heart to work harder to keep blood flowing correctly. This extra work can weaken the heart muscle. Sometimes an infection from a virus can damage the heart muscle. Some people are born with heart defects. If the heart and its chambers or valves haven't formed correctly, the heart may have to work harder to pump blood. This can lead to heart failure.

How is heart failure treated?
Heart failure is a serious disease. It typically requires lifelong treatment. With treatment, the signs and symptoms of heart failure can improve. Sometimes the heart can become stronger. Occasionally the underlying cause of the heart failure can be corrected. For example, repairing a heart valve may help improve heart failure. In some cases, devices that help the heart beat and contract properly are used. For most people, the treatment of heart failure involves a balance of the right medications, lifestyle modification, and regular medical management.