Having heart failure, also known as congestive heart failure or CHF, doesn't mean that your heart has stopped. It simply means that your heart doesn't work as well as it should.
Heart failure is a condition in which the heart continues to work but not well enough to meet your body's needs.
- Because your heart can't pump well, your body tries to make up for it. To do this:
- Your body may hold on to salt and water, which increases the volume of blood in your bloodstream.
- You may feel a faster heartbeat.
- If untreated over time, your heart may grow in size or become larger (cardiomegaly).
- When your heart does not pump well, it may cause extra fluid to build up in your body.
- The extra fluid backs up into the legs, lungs and other organs.
- Fluid buildup around the lungs also may be called congestion.
This is why the disease is sometimes called congestive heart failure.
- There are two types of conditions that lead to your heart not pumping optimally.
- Systolic heart failure, where the heart does not pump normally and cannot keep up with the body's needs.
- Diastolic heart failure, where the heart pumps normally but has become so stiff or thick it cannot hold as much blood as a healthy heart. With less blood being pumped, it cannot keep up with the body's needs.
Heart failure can make it more difficult to do things that may have been easy for you to do in the past.
To learn more about the health of your heart, attend one of our screenings or events.