Congestive Heart Failure

When the heart’s pumping becomes less effective, blood can back up to various area of the body. At that point, heart failure becomes known as congestive heart failure because fluid ultimately backs up in the lungs, liver, arms, legs and the gastrointestinal tract.

Symptoms of Congestive Heart Failure

The most common signs and symptoms of heart failure are:

  • Shortness of breath or trouble breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Swelling in the ankles, feet, legs, abdomen, and veins in the neck

Common Causes of Congestive Heart Failure

Heart failure can be caused by

  • Coronary heart disease
  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Other heart conditions or diseases such as arrhythmia, cardiomyopathy, congenital heart defects, or heart valve disease

To help prevent congestive heart failure, some risk factors may be controlled or modified:

Controllable Risk Factors

Non-controllable Risk Factors

  • Advancing age
  • Family history


No single test can diagnose heart failure. If you have signs and symptoms of heart failure, your doctor may recommend one or more tests.


Early diagnosis is important. Treating congestive heart failure can help patients live longer, more active lives if they follow their physician’s instructions and make beneficial changes to their lifestyle. Of course, all of this depends on the type and severity of the patient’s condition.

It is important to diagnose and treat the underlying cause of the patient’s congestive heart failure. It is helpful to reduce the symptoms and prevent the heart failure from worsening. Treatment typically includes making healthy lifestyle changes and taking medication. Sometimes, patients need medical procedures or surgery; that depends on the severity of the heart failure.

Information on this site should not be used as a substitute for talking with your doctors. Always talk with your doctors about diagnosis and treatment options.