What is congestive cardiac failure?

Congestive cardiac failure is a condition in which the heart loses the ability to pump blood efficiently throughout the body. The disease affects other organs in the body, resulting in breathing difficulty, reduced kidney function, and fluid accumulation in body tissues (edema) from poor circulation.

Congestive cardiac failure develops when the heart muscle becomes weakened and can no longer circulate blood effectively through the body. Most commonly, people develop congestive cardiac failure as a result of coronary artery disease (disease of the arteries that supply blood and oxygen to the heart). Other causes of congestive cardiac failure are infection, congenital heart disease, heart attack, heart valve disease, and some types of heart rhythm irregularities (arrhythmias).

Congestive cardiac failure is a chronic, long-term condition, although it can sometimes develop suddenly. The signs and symptoms of congestive cardiac failure vary in duration and frequency. Many people with the condition have no specific symptoms at all. Some people may have milder symptoms such as cough, shortness of breath on exertion, and swelling of the feet and ankles, while others may experience more serious symptoms such as extreme shortness of breath even at rest, coughing up pink froth, and wheezing.

Fortunately, several different types of medications can be used to stabilize and reduce the symptoms of congestive cardiac failure.

Left untreated, congestive cardiac failure may lead to severe cardiopulmonary problems. Seek immediate medical care (call 911) for serious symptoms, such as sudden fluid buildup, rapid or irregular heartbeat, sudden, severe shortness of breath (dyspnea) and coughing up pink, foamy mucus, or chest pain.

Seek prompt medical care if you are being treated for congestive cardiac failure but mild symptoms recur or are persistent, such as fatigue and weakness, shortness of breath when you exert yourself or when you lie down, reduced ability to exercise, or swelling in your abdomen, legs, ankles and feet.


What are the symptoms of congestive cardiac failure?

Congestive cardiac failure results from cardiac, circulatory, and lung disorders that may produce a number of symptoms. The symptoms can vary in intensity among individuals.

Common symptoms of congestive cardiac failure

At times, any of these congestive cardiac failure symptoms can be severe:


What causes congestive cardiac failure?

Congestive cardiac failure is caused by a weakened heart muscle that is unable to effectively circulate blood throughout the body. Coronary artery disease, a common cause of a weakened heart muscle, is a narrowing of the small blood vessels that supply blood and oxygen to the heart. Obstructed blood vessels cause the heart muscle to work harder. Over time, the heart muscle becomes weakened and ... Read more about congestive cardiac failurecauses


How is congestive cardiac failure treated?

Treatment of congestive cardiac failure begins with seeking medical care from your health care provider. To determine if you have congestive cardiac failure, your health care provider will ask you to undergo diagnostic testing.

Medications used to treated congestive cardiac failure

A combination of medications is used as the mainstay of treatment for congestive cardiac ... Read more about congestive cardiac failuretreatments

Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Annual Review Date: Aug 9, 2013 Copyright: © Copyright 2014 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

This Article is Filed Under: Heart, Blood and Circulation