(Source: NIH / MedlinePlus) Heart failure is a condition in which the heart can't pump enough blood throughout the body. Heart failure does not mean that your heart has stopped or is about to stop working. It means that your heart is not able to pump blood the way it should.
The weakening of the heart's pumping ability causes
- Blood and fluid to back up into the lungs
- The buildup of fluid in the feet, ankles and legs - called edema
- Tiredness and shortness of breath
The leading causes of heart failure are coronary artery disease, high blood pressure and diabetes.
Treatment includes treating the underlying cause of your heart failure, medicines, and heart transplantation if other treatments fail.
Heart failure is a serious condition. About 5 million people in the U.S. have heart failure. It contributes to 300,000 deaths each year.
A mechanical device called a left ventricular assist device (LVAD), can be implanted into the abdomen or chest and attached to a weakened heart to help it pump. Doctors first used heart pumps to help keep heart transplant candidates alive while they waited for a donor heart.
LVADs are now sometimes used as an alternative to transplantation. Implanted heart pumps can significantly extend and improve the lives of some people with severe heart failure who aren't eligible for or able to undergo heart transplantation or are waiting for a new heart.
Source: Mayo Clinic
Key Point 1
Cardiomyopathy, or heart failure, means that your heart can’t pump enough blood to meet your body’s needs. While it is generally not reversible, it is treatable.
Key Point 2
While heart transplant was once the only hope of survival for heart failure patients, ventricular assist devices are now being used successfully not as a bridge to a transplant, but as a permanent treatment.
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