Congestive heart failure is a chronic condition in which your heart gradually becomes weakened and cannot pump an adequate amount of blood through your body. Although its cause is not always known, congestive heart failure has a variety of known causes, such as a previous heart attack and high blood pressure. When the heart muscle is damaged in cases like these, there is a decrease in pumping capacity, which causes the kidneys to retain sodium and water. When this occurs, the water retained may accumulate in your ankles, abdomen or lungs. The excess water in the lungs may cause a potentially serious problem called pulmonary edema. It often requires hospitalization to manage.
Heart failure is a disease that is more common in the elderly. Approximately 10 percent of people over age 75 suffer from heart failure. The total cost for treatment of heart failure exceeds $38 billion dollars annually, including more than $20 billion in hospital days alone. The financial costs pale in comparison to the toll this disease takes on affected individuals. Heart failure patients are greatly impacted by the disease, having to deal with limitations on their breathing, mobility and their general quality of life.
The solution to heart failure lies in the Heart Failure Treatment Centers. The Centers use a collaborative team approach to treating heart failure, bringing together the latest technology available and the very best experts from The University Hospital, the Health Alliance and the College of Medicine. In addition, physicians at the Heart Failure Treatment Centers care for patients on an outpatient basis to reduce hospital admissions. Doing so improves the quality of life, activity tolerance and survival for patients. For more information about the Heart Failure Treatment Centers, see Treatment for Congestive Heart Failure.
Risk Factors of Congestive Heart Failure
Any conditions or diseases that deteriorate or weaken the heart may lead to congestive heart failure. Therefore, if you have a heart condition like the ones listed below, you are at greater risk for congestive heart failure. Also, if your family has a history of congestive heart failure, you may be more likely to develop it as well. Heart conditions that may lead to congestive heart failure include:
- Infections in the heart
- Valvular heart disease from rheumatic fever or congenital defects
- Heart attacks
- High blood pressure