Congestive Heart Failure

Congestive heart failure is a condition that prevents the heart from pumping enough oxygenated blood to the body’s other organs. Heart failure interferes with kidney function and can cause swelling in the ankles and legs and fluid build-up in the lungs, leading to shortness-of-breath. Nearly 5.7 million Americans suffer from heart failure, and 670,000 people are diagnosed with the condition each year. Heart valve disorders, high blood pressure, a heart attack, coronary artery disease, congenital heart disease and other diseases of the heart muscle can cause congestive heart failure. Other causes include cardiac arrhythmias, chronic lung disease, drug-induced heart failure, excessive sodium intake, hemorrhage and anemia, and diabetes.


Heart failure treatments vary based on the cause of the condition, the extent of the illness, and the age and physical condition of each patient. If heart failure is caused by a valve disorder then surgery is the typical treatment. Sometimes the disease which caused the condition is treated, which resolves the heart failure. In cases where heart failure is caused by a damaged heart muscle, medical and other therapies have proven to be successful. Treatment may include:

Controlling risk factors – losing weight, restricting salt, quitting smoking, controlling blood sugar and blood pressure and limiting fluids – may be recommended for treatment of heart failure. Medications may be used to lower blood pressure, reduce fluid build-up, to maintain a healthy heart rhythm and improve heart strength and pumping ability. Cardiac pacemakers, defibrillators and other ventricular assist devices  may also be used to maintain healthy heart rhythms. Sometimes a heart transplant is recommended for treatment of advanced heart failure.


A number of tests may be performed to diagnose congestive heart failure.  


Emerson Hospital offers a comprehensive array of services for patients with congestive heart failure including: