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Congestive Heart Failure

Heart failure is a condition that occurs when the heart can no longer pump enough blood to meet the body's demands. It can be a long term (chronic condition) or come on suddenly (acute condition).

The most common presenting symptoms include shortness of breath, fatigue or swelling of the legs. These symptoms may occur gradually over time or occur suddenly depending upon the cause.

The most common causes include coronary artery disease(blocked arteries), poorly controlled high blood pressure, leaky heart valves, heart attacks, and certain irregular heart beats. There are a multitude of other less common causes.

Treatment depends on the cause, but for the most part, involves removing the fluid from the lungs with drugs called diuretics- this helps the acute situation. Angioplasty and stenting or bypass surgery may be needed to fix blocked arteries. Longer term treatment includes medications to control the blood pressure and neurohormonal system(local hormones that are "toxic" to the heart).