What is heart failure?
Heart failure sounds frightening, but it doesn’t mean a patient’s heart will stop beating at any moment — it means it’s not pumping optimally to meet the body’s needs. Heart failure affects nearly 6 million Americans annually and is often unrecognized or misdiagnosed. It’s important to know the causes and symptoms of this condition, as early diagnosis can help patients live an active life.
Treatment options depend on the type and stage of heart failure. Left-sided heart failure occurs when a heart can’t handle pumping the amount of blood it needs, making it work harder and prohibiting the body from getting the oxygen levels it requires to survive. In rightsided heart failure a heart loses pumping power, causing blood to back up in the blood vessels and swelling and blood retention in areas such as the ankles and legs. Congestive heart failure is a heart weakness that leads to a buildup of fluid in the lungs and surrounding body tissues, causing congestion.
What happens when a patient is diagnosed with heart failure?
Heart failure treatment is not linear — many factors impact treatment options. Once evaluated, patients may receive medication to strengthen and manage their heart. In some cases, advanced therapies are needed, which include a heart pump or transplant.
UF Health Shands Transplant Center Heart Failure Program faculty and staff work with patients to manage their heart health and support them during their journey.
Here's what happens when our dedicated heart failure team treats patients
- Heart failure affects nearly 6 million Americans
- 400,000 to 700,000 new cases of heart failure are diagnosed each year
Know the symptoms:
- Shortness of breath, which can happen even during mild activity
- Difficulty breathing when lying down
- Weight gain with swelling in the legs and ankles
- General fatigue and weakness
Know the causes:
- Previous heart attack
- Heart defects
- High blood pressure
- Alcohol or drug abuse
Heart failure doesn’t happen overnight — it can develop over many years.
Statistics and information provided by the Heart Failure Society of America.