Heart failure

This problem sometimes known as congestive heart failure, occurs when your heart muscle doesn’t pump blood as well as it should. Such as narrowed arteries in your heart (coronary artery disease) or high blood pressure, gradually leave your heart too weak or stiff to fill and pump efficiently. Not all conditions that lead to this problem can be reversed, but treatments can improve the signs and symptoms of heart failure and help you live longer. Lifestyle changes — such as exercising, reducing sodium in your diet, managing stress and losing weight — can improve your quality of life.


  • Illustration of a person with heart failure
  • Open pop-up dialog box
  • It can be ongoing (chronic), or your condition may start suddenly (acute)
  • Shortness of breath when you exert yourself or when you lie down
  • Fatigue and weakness
  • Swelling (edema) in your legs, ankles and feet
  • Rapid or irregular heartbeat
  • Reduced ability to exercise
  • Persistent cough or wheezing with white or pink blood-tinged phlegm
  • Increased need to urinate at night
  • Swelling of your abdomen
  • Very rapid weight gain from fluid retention
  • Lack of appetite and nausea
  • Difficulty concentrating or decreased alertness
  • Sudden, severe shortness of breath and coughing up pink, foamy mucus
  • Chest pain if your heart failure is caused by a heart attack


You can control or eliminate many of the risk factors for this— high blood pressure and coronary artery disease, for example — by making lifestyle changes along with the help of any needed medications.

Lifestyle changes you can make to help prevent heart failure include:

  • Not smoking
  • Controlling certain conditions, such as high blood pressure and diabetes
  • Staying physically active
  • Eating healthy foods
  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Reducing and managing stress

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