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Congestive heart failure symptoms & treatments

When congestive heart failure strikes, the effects will be felt all over the body. Congestive heart failure (CHF) is a condition in which the heart becomes unable to pump enough blood - this will affect the functioning of other organs in the body.

Although the heart keeps working, it is not operating as efficiently as it should - thus those with congestive heart failure find that they easily become tired and short of breath. Other symptoms include:

  • Swelling (edema) as blood returning to the heart through the veins backs up - typically this will cause swelling in the legs and ankles
  • Fluid in the lungs
  • Kidney problems - the kidneys become unable to dispose of sodium and water
This condition can result from a number of causes, including:
  • Narrowing of the arteries that supply blood to the heart
  • Previous heart attack - the scar tissue interferes with the heart's normal functioning
  • Hypertension - high blood pressure
  • Heart valve disease (e.g. from rheumatic fever)
  • Cardiomyopathy (disease of the heart muscle)
  • Congenital heart defects
  • Infection of the heart
There is a range of different treatments including:
  • Rest
  • Improve diet
  • Modified daily activities
  • Medications, including drugs such as ACE (angiotensin-converting enzyme) inhibitors, beta blockers, digitalis, diuretics, and vasodilators