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Cardio Health Healthline

What to know about congestive heart failure (CHF)

Despite its name, congestive heart failure does not necessarily mean that the heart has stopped working. However, heart failure is a serious condition, in which the heart does not pump blood around the body efficiently.
The body relies on the pumping action of the heart to deliver nutrient- and oxygen-rich blood to each of its cells. When the cells do not receive adequate nourishment, the body cannot function properly.
If the heart becomes weakened and cannot supply the cells with sufficient blood, it can lead to fatigue and breathlessness. Everyday activities that used to be easy may become challenging.
There is usuallyTrusted Source no cure for heart failure, but with the right treatment, people can often lead enjoyable and productive lives.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 6 millionTrusted Source adults in the United States have heart failure.
The condition can be systolic or diastolic, depending on whether it affects the heart’s ability to contract or relax. This article focuses on systolic congestive heart failure, and we cover its causes, symptoms, types, and treatment.

Heart failure, heart attack, and cardiac arrest

In exploring the characteristics of heart failure, it can help to have a clear understanding of related issues, including:

  • Heart attack: This event involves damage to the heart muscle. It can result from the blockage of a coronary artery, which supplies blood to the heart. In this case, the muscle is damaged because too little blood and oxygen are reaching it. The damage can also result from a supply and demand mismatch.
  • Systolic heart failure: This means that the heart muscle cannot pump blood around the body properly. It can be caused by a heart attack.
  • Cardiac arrest: This happens when the heart and blood circulation both stop, and the person has no pulse.

Stages of congestive heart failure

These stagesTrusted Source are:
  • Stage A: A person has not yet developed heart failure but has a high risk due to one or more preexisting conditions, such as high blood pressure, coronary artery disease, or diabetes.
  • Stage B: A person has not developed heart failure or its symptoms but has received a diagnosis of systolic left ventricular dysfunction.
  • Stage C: A person has ongoing or past symptoms of heart failure and currently has structural heart disease.
  • Stage D: A person has advanced heart failure that is difficult to manage with standard treatment.


Any condition that damages the heart muscle can cause systolic heart failure. These conditions includeTrusted Source:
  • Coronary artery disease: The coronary arteries supply the heart muscle with blood. If these become blocked or narrowed, the flow of blood diminishes, and the heart does not receive the blood supply that it needs.
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