Heart failure (HF), also known as congestive heart failure, is a common condition that develops after the heart becomes damaged or weakened by diseases of the heart including heart attacks and other medical conditions. HF occurs when the pumping action of your heart is not strong enough to move blood around, especially during increased activity or under stress. In addition, the heart muscle may not relax properly to accommodate the flow of blood back from the lungs to the heart. These abnormalities in heart function can cause fluid to back up in your lungs and in other parts of your body such as your ankles. The congestion in your lungs and lack of oxygen may make you feel tired and short of breath. Sometimes the fluid in your lungs can accumulate to the point where it can cause a life-threatening condition called acute pulmonary edema, requiring emergency treatment.
Heart failure is on the rise as more people survive heart attacks and other acute heart conditions. As people with damaged hearts are living longer, they become more susceptible to heart failure. It is estimated that there are about 500,000 Canadians living with heart failure.
Heart failure is a serious condition. There is no cure. However, with lifestyle changes and treatment options, you can manage your condition very well. Many patients can return to a full and normal life. Learning about your heart failure is an important first step in managing your condition.
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