Congestive Heart Failure

What is Congestive Heart Failure?

Congestive heart failure occurs when the heart cannot pump blood efficiently causing blood to back up in the body, particularly the lungs, liver hands and feet. If blood backs up from the right side of the heart it results in swelling of the legs and ankles. The swelling gets worse when a person stands for long periods and decreases when he lies down. If blood backs up from the left side of the heart it results in shortness of breath and coughing during times of physical exertion or while lying down in bed.

It is a progressive and chronic condition that can be life threatening. The reduced ability to pump blood results in reduced amounts of oxygen and nutrients being supplied to the body and can result in damage to vital organs and even organ failure. There can be many causes which can result in this condition.

Alternative Names

  • CGH
  • Heart failure
  • Systolic Heart Failure: the pumping action is weakened - resulting in a lower proportion of blood being pumped out.
  • Diastolic Heart Failure: The heart muscles lose their flexibility and become stiff when relaxing and filling with blood. This prevents blood from completely filling in the heart resulting in blood backing up into the lungs.