health care  
All about congestive heart failure causes of congestive heart failure symptoms of congestive heart failure diagnosis of congestive heart failure congestive heart failure treatment heart failure medications prevention of congestive heart failure

What causes congestive heart failure?

Congestive heart failure can be caused by a number of conditions that damage the heart muscle, including a heart attack or heart infection; coronary artery disease; excessive alcohol consumption; an over- or under-active thyroid gland; and untreated high blood pressure. Congestive heart failure can also be caused by damage to or abnormalities in the valves inside the heart, which regulate blood flow out of the heart, and genetic conditions, such as hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, in

which the heart muscle becomes thickened due to enlarged heart muscle cells. Factors such as high fever, anemia, lung infections, pulmonary embolism, high salt or fluid intake, overexertion, obesity, stress, and rapid heartbeat can worsen or trigger congestive heart failure in people with already weakened hearts.

Congestive heart failure is often the result of a lifetime of abuse. Unhealthy habits, such as smoking and excessive use of alcohol, are often to blame. Obesity and lack of activity contribute to the condition. Years of uncontrolled high blood pressure damage both heart and blood vessels. A number of diseases (for example, diabetes and congenital heart disease) can damage the heart and lead to congestive heart failure.

The most common cause for heart failure is dysfunction of the left ventricle. Normally, every time the heart "beats," the left ventricle contracts and ejects approximately 60% of the blood in the chamber into the main artery (aorta). The percentage of blood pumped out of the left ventricle with each contraction is called the ejection fraction.
Measuring the ejection fraction is a way to determine left ventricle function. In patients with left ventricular dysfunction, the ejection fraction may be as little as 10%. An ejection fraction of approximately 40?5% indicates mild dysfunction; 30?0% indicates moderate dysfunction; and 10?5% indicates severe dysfunction.

Heart failure may develop during the last 3 months of pregnancy or several months after pregnancy. The cause of this is not well understood, but it may be due to an abnormal immune system response. In some cases, the cause of heart failure is never identified (called idiopathic cardiomyopathy). Idiopathic cardiomyopathy may be due to a past, unidentified viral infection.

More information on congestive heart failure

What is congestive heart failure? - Congestive heart failure (CHF) is the inability of the heart to pump blood effectively to the body. Heart failure is a degenerative condition caused by weakening of the heart muscle.
What causes congestive heart failure? - Congestive heart failure can be caused by a number of conditions that damage the heart muscle, including a heart attack or heart infection; coronary artery disease.
What're the symptoms of congestive heart failure? - Congestive heart failure symptoms and signs include shortness of breath with minimal exertion, fatigue, abrupt shortness of breath at night, occasional wheezing, and cough.
How is congestive heart failure diagnosed? - Congestive heart failure is a clinical diagnosis. Diagnosis usually is confirmed by physical examination, patient history, and various tests.
What treatments cure congestive heart failure? - The treatment of congestive heart failure focused on treating the symptoms and signs of congestive heart failure and preventing the progression of disease.
What heart failure medications are available? - Heart failure medications include angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, angiotensin II receptor blockers (ARBs), diuretics (water pills).
How to prevent congestive heart failure? - Congestive heart failure can be prevented through adjusting diet, monitoring weight, onitor your weight, fluid intake, smoking cessation.
Heart & cardiovascular disorders Mainpage

Topics in heart disease and cardiovascular disorders

Coronary circulation disorders
Myocardium disorders
Heart valve disorders
Arrhythmias (abnormal heart rhythms)
Heart inflammation and infection
Congenital heart disease
Valvular disease (blood vessels disorders)
Procedures done for coronary artery disease
Devices used in cardiology
Diagnostic tests and procedures for heart diseases
Heart transplant

Featured articles on heart disease and cardiovascular disorders

Coronary artery disease
Heart attack (myocardial infarction)
Cardiac arrhythmia
Heart valve replacement
Congestive heart failure
Aortic aneurysm
Atrial fibrillation

All information is intended for reference only. Please consult your physician for accurate medical advices and treatment. Copyright 2005,, all rights reserved. Last update: July 18, 2005