Heart failure occurs when the heart is unable to pump sufficiently to maintain blood flow to meet the body's needs. It starts when the heart is damaged or weakened, however it doesn't mean that your heart suddenly stops working.
This is a chronic medical condition, commonly compensated using drugs, but de-compensation leads to lengthy and costly emergency hospital admissions.
Heart failure is the most common cause of hospitalisation in patients over the age of 65.
The main symptoms of heart failure are:
- Shortness of breath
- Excessive tiredness
- Leg swelling (edema)
- Rapid or irregular heartbeat (tachycardia)
- Persistent cough
Common causes of heart failure are:
- Coronary artery disease (inc. a previous heart attack)
- High blood pressure
- Atrial fibrillation
- Excess alcohol use
- Other cardiomyopathies (complications) of an unknown cause
Heart failure can also be called congestive heart failure, left-sided heart failure, right-sided heart failure, systolic heart failure, or diastolic heart failure.