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Background Information (I)

What is Heart Failure?

Heart failure is a condition which results from the hearts inability to maintain sufficient cardiac output to meet the metabolic demands of the body. It can be acute or chronic in nature,  affect either side of the heart and can be systolic or diastolic. These differences are important for treatment selection purposes.


  • Acute: rapid onset of symptoms and a lack of compensatory mechanisms

  • Chronic: symptoms have been present for a long time, and compensatory mechanisms have taken effect

Contrary to what most patients might believe, heart failure is not a sudden catastrophic shutdown of the heart. It is the steady, slow decline of the heart’s ability to supply blood to the body’s tissues. Congestive heart failure refers to the fluid build up that is often seen in the lower limbs, and lungs of heart failure patients. This congestion is a result of the heart’s inability to move fluid out of the venous system and pulmonary arteries.

 Systolic failure

 Reduced pumping power

Decreased contractility

Inadequate amount of oxygenated blood pumped into circulation

Characterized by a dilated left ventricle

 Diastolic failure

 Decreased relaxation ability of heart muscle

Inadequate refilling of the ventricles

More common in hypertensive women, and patients over the age of 75 [1]





1. emedecine Consumer Health -

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