Congestive Heart Failure (CHF)

Heart failure is a progressive disease that is defined as an in ability of the heart to provide adequate blood flow throughout the body due to damage of the heart tissue. When the heart is unable to keep up with the normal demands required to pump blood, remodeling occurs to compensate for the heart’s decreased function. Remodeling includes enlargement of the heart, increased muscle mass and wall thickening, and increased heart rate. Symptoms of heart failure include fluid collection in tissues and lungs, shortness of breath and fatigue. The causes of heart failure are varied and can include coronary heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, cardiomyopathy, heart valve disease, arrhythmias and congenital heart defects.

Currently, there is no cure for heart failure. According to the American Heart Association, heart failure affects 2% of the population and causes 300,000 deaths each year in the Unites States alone. In 2008, the estimated total cost of heart failure in the United States was $37.2 billion dollars.

Heart failure is a chronic and progressive disease that requires lifelong management. Treatments include pharmaceutical management, lifestyle changes and risk factor reduction. Medications include vasodilators such as ACE inhibitors and Angiotenson II receptor blockers, beta blockers to decrease heart rate and blood pressure, diuretics to prevent fluid buildup, and aldosterone antagonists to improve heart function. More severe cases required surgical procedures to prevent further tissue damage. However, many patients continue to worsen despite these interventions, and there is a high rate of mortality associated with the condition.