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Heart Failure

Heart Too Weak or Stiff to Pump Enough Blood

Although the term sounds frightening, this condition is usually treatable.

Heart failure does not mean that your heart has stopped working. It means that your heart has become weakened or too stiff to pump enough blood to meet your body's needs.

Fluids Build Up in Lungs and Body

Because your heart does not pump blood as well as it should, fluid tends to build up in the lungs and other parts of the body.

Blood Flow Through the Heart

Most Common Symptoms

The most common symptoms of heart failure are:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Swelling of the feet and legs
  • Fatigue

Heart Failure Classification

Sometimes doctors classify heart failure as systolic or diastolic.

Systolic Heart Failure

Systolic heart failure occurs when the heart enlarges, loses the ability to contract properly, and is unable to pump enough blood to the body. This is the more common type of heart failure.

Diastolic Heart Failure

Diastolic heart failure occurs when the heart muscle is thick and stiff. As a result, the heart cannot relax and fill properly with blood.

What can be done about it?

  • In most cases, heart failure is a chronic condition, which means it can be treated and managed.
  • Sometimes it can be cured.
  • Your doctor can prescribe medications to make your heart work more efficiently and help relieve your symptoms.
  • In addition, there are several things you can do to help your heart, such as cutting down on salt, leading a healthy lifestyle, getting enough rest, and keeping regular appointments with your doctor.

Contact Information

Cardiovascular Medicine
Division of the CardioVascular Institute
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
330 Brookline Avenue
Boston, MA 02215
617-667-8800

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