There are an estimated 400,000-700,000 new cases of heart failure diagnosed each year. It’s the most common inpatient diagnosis in patients older than 65. While heart failure is a progressive disease, early diagnosis and treatment can improve your quality of life and life expectancy.
If you have heart failure, your heart muscle is weakened by damage from a heart attack, high blood pressure, or other cause. It gradually loses its ability to pump enough blood to meet your body’s needs – due to failure of your heart’s ability to pump, or a failure of your body’s ability to return blood to the heart.
Because your heart can’t pump well, your body tries to make up for it. Your heart chambers stretch so they can hold more blood, but become thick and stiff over time. Your kidneys respond, causing your body to hold onto fluids and sodium. These fluids build up in your arms, legs, ankles, feet, lungs and other organs.
Heart failure starts slowly and gets worse over time, though medicine and lifestyle changes can slow or even reverse heart failure for some people.