Introduction

Congestive cardiac failure, CCF - Congestive cardiac failure, CHF - Congestive heart failure, Congestive heart failure (disorder), Congestive heart disease,HF - Heart failure, Cardiac failure, Weak heart, Myocardial failure, Heart failure (disorder), Cardiac insufficiency,Fetal heart failure (disorder), Foetal heart failure,Cardiac Failure Congestive, CHF,

Heart failure is a clinical syndrome which is characterized by the inability of the heart to pump well enough to supply all the tissues of the body with blood. Since the heart and peripheral vessels are functionally a joint system, one can also use the term cardiovascular insufficiencycardiac insufficiency or heart failure (even though the heart has not ‘failed’ in its task to supply the organism with blood, it is merely not performing this function as well as it should). Heart failure is a long-term condition that tends to get gradually worse over time. It can't usually be cured, but the symptoms can often be controlled for many years.

There are three types of heart failure:

  1.  Left ventricle failure

  2.  Right ventricle failure

  3.  Biventricular failure

Right ventricle heart failure may occur as a consequence of the left ventricle heart failure, mitral stenosis or mitral ailments, congenital defects or bronchopneumopathies which lead to pulmonary heart disease, etc.

A biventricular heart failure can occur when the right ventricle becomes unable to compensate in a patient already suffering from a left ventricle heart failure. This condition can also manifest during a bout of an infectious or toxic myocarditis, cardiosclerosis, thyrotoxicosis, myxedema, severe anemia, avitaminosis, liver cirrhosis, etc, 

Depending on the progression of the disease, the failure may be:

  • Acute
  • Chronic

Symptoms of heart failure

The main symptoms of heart failure are:

  • Shortness of breath after activity or at rest
  • feeling tired most of the time and finding exercise exhausting
  • swollen ankles and legs

Some people also experience other symptoms, such as a persistent cough, a fast heart rate, and dizziness.

Symptoms can develop quickly (acute heart failure) or gradually over weeks or months(chronic heart failure).

When to get medical advice

See your GP if you experience persistent or gradually worsening symptoms of heart failure.

Call the emergency number for an ambulance or go to your nearest accident and emergency (A&E) department as soon as possible if you have sudden or very severe symptoms.

A number of tests can be used to help check how well your heart is working, including blood tests, an electrocardiogram (ECG) and an echocardiogram.

For example, if your heart valves are damaged, replacing or repairing them may cure the condition.

It can severely limit the activities you're able to do and is often eventually fatal.

But it's very difficult to predict how the condition will progress on an individual basis. It's very unpredictable many people remain stable for many years, while in some cases it may get worse quickly.

Overall, around half of people with heart failure live at least five years after their diagnosis.

Content provided by NHS Choices

Medically Reviewed by a doctor on 4 Jan 2017
Content supplied by NHS Choices