What is Heart Failure?

Heart Failure is a condition in which the heart does not pump as well as it should. If you have heart failure, it does not mean that your heart is going to stop. A normal healthy heart pumps enough oxygen-rich blood out of the heart and into the system to nourish all parts of the body. Symptoms of heart failure may occur when the heart does not pump (eject blood) efficiently enough to meet these oxygen demands. Heart failure can be due to the heart not squeezing properly, or due to the heart not relaxing properly.

There are two types of heart failure:

Systolic heart failure occurs when the heart does not squeeze as well as it should, due to a weakened heart muscle.

Diastolic heart failure occurs when the heart squeezes well but cannot properly fill with blood because the muscle has thickened and has lost its ability to relax.

With systolic and/or diastolic heart failure, blood can “back up” into your lungs and other parts of your body such as your hands, abdomen (belly), legs, and feet. This “backing up” of fluid is sometimes referred to as “congestion” or congestive heart failure. Symptoms of heart failure are often due to “congestion,” but in some cases of moderate to severe systolic heart failure, symptoms can be due to the weak heart (or weak pumping action) without the presence of “congestion.”

Watch a video where Dr. Laskar discusses heart failure causes and treatments.