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Heart failure is a condition that develops when the heart's muscle becomes weakened after it is injured from something like a heart attack or blood pressure, and loses its ability to pump enough blood to supply the body's needs.
It is a very common disease and affects nearly 5 million Americans, and an estimated 550,000 new cases are diagnosed each year.
There is an acronym to help you remember the symptoms of heart failure: FACES
F for fatigue
A for activities limited
C for chest congestion
E for edema or ankle swelling
S for shortness of breath
The most common method of diagnosing cardiomyopathy is an electrocardiogram (EKG) and a chest x-ray. An EKG measures the electrical activity of your heart and a chest x-ray takes a picture of your heart to examine its configuration and size. Other imaging tests that may be ordered are as follows:
People suffering from heart failure can almost always be helped by a combination of changes in lifestyle and medication. Your doctor will select the most appropriate treatment for you.
Depending on the type and severity of your heart failure, your doctor may use the following medications:
Heart failure is a progressive disease that can worsen over time without treatment. Sometimes, surgical intervention helps. Some surgeries involve removal of damaged heart muscle, repair of damaged valves, or surgery to correct blocked arteries. In extreme cases, heart transplantation may be necessary, whereby surgeons remove your damaged heart and replace it with a human heart from an organ donor.
Some types of heart failure can be improved by pacemakers which enhance the timing and vigor of the way the heart beats. Some can correct lethal arrhythmias which are more common in heart failure.
These and other devices are being used more commonly in the treatment of heart failure.
Cardiac Rehabilitation is a medically supervised, physician prescribed education and exercise program for people with heart disease or with an increased risk of heart disease.