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You are here : 3-RX.com > Medical Encyclopedia > Diseases and Conditions > Congestive Heart Failure
      Category : Health Centers > Congestive Heart Failure (CHF)

Congestive Heart Failure

Alternate Names : Heart Failure, CHF, Left-Sided Heart Failure

Overview, Causes, & Risk Factors | Symptoms & Signs | Diagnosis & Tests | Prevention & Expectations | Treatment & Monitoring

Congestive heart failure, also known as CHF, is a condition in which a weakened heart cannot pump enough blood to body organs. Since the pumping action of the heart is reduced, blood backs up into certain body tissues.

What is going on in the body?

CHF is caused by a number of complex problems that cause the pumping chambers of the heart to fail. The heart is divided into a left heart and right heart. In a healthy heart, the right heart receives oxygen-poor blood from the body and pumps it to the lungs. The blood receives a fresh supply of oxygen as it passes through the lungs. The oxygen-rich blood is then pumped back into the left heart, which pumps it out to the rest of the body.

If the pumping chambers of the heart do not function well, blood stays in the lungs or in the tissues of the body. These areas then become congested with blood and fluid. And that is the basis for the name congestive heart failure. In time, the organs and tissues begin to suffer from not getting enough blood and oxygen.

What are the causes and risks of the condition?

CHF can be caused by many diseases and conditions. Coronary heart disease, also called CHD, is a major cause of CHF. Multiple or severe heart attacks can lead to CHF as heart muscle is damaged. Other risk factors for CHF include:

  • alcohol abuse
  • certain infectious diseases common in underdeveloped countries
  • congenital heart disease, which are heart defects present at birth
  • diabetes
  • heart valve damage, such as the scarring from a heart valve infection known as endocarditis
  • high blood pressure
  • high cholesterol levels
  • obesity
  • inactive lifestyle
  • smoking
  • some genetic disorders that lead to conditions known as cardiomyopathies


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    Congestive Heart Failure: Symptoms & Signs

    Author: Bill Harrison, MD
    Reviewer: Kathleen A. MacNaughton, RN, BSN
    Date Reviewed: 09/05/02

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