Heart Failure

Normal heart and an enlarged (dilated) heart

Heart failure occurs when the heart muscle does not pump as much blood as the body needs. Failure does not mean that the heart has stopped pumping but rather that it is failing to pump as effectively as it should.

The body tries to compensate for the heart's reduced pumping ability by:

  • Holding on to (retaining) salt and water to increase the amount of blood in the bloodstream.
  • Increasing the heart rate.
  • Increasing the size of the heart.

ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Rakesh K. Pai, MD, FACC - Cardiology, Electrophysiology
Martin J. Gabica, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Stephen Fort, MD, MRCP, FRCPC - Interventional Cardiology

Current as ofJanuary 27, 2016

Current as of: January 27, 2016

Author: Healthwise Staff

Medical Review: Rakesh K. Pai, MD, FACC - Cardiology, Electrophysiology & Martin J. Gabica, MD - Family Medicine & Stephen Fort, MD, MRCP, FRCPC - Interventional Cardiology