Congestive Heart Failure - Are You at Risk?

Congestive heart failure, also known simply as heart failure or HF, happens when the heart cannot pump enough blood and oxygen to support other organs in your body. Heart failure is a serious condition, but it does not mean that the heart has stopped beating.

Congestive Heart Failure in the United States

  • About 5.7 million adults in the United States have the disease.
  • One in 9 deaths in 2009 included congestive heart failure as contributing cause.
  • About half of people who develop the disease die within 5 years of diagnosis.
  • Congestive heart failure costs the nation an estimated $30.7 billion each year. This total includes the cost of health care services, medications to treat heart failure, and missed days of work.
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Deaths from Congestive Heart Failure Vary by Geography

The disease is more common in some areas of the United States than in others. Below is a map showing the rate of death from heart failure by county during 2011–2013.

Map - Congestive heart failure by county in U.S.

Risk Factors for Heart Failure

Diseases that damage your heart also increase your risk for congestive heart failure. Some of these diseases include
  • Coronary heart disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes

Unhealthy behaviors can also increase your risk for the disease, especially for people who have one of the diseases listed above. Unhealthy behaviors include

  • Smoking tobacco
  • Eating foods high in fat, cholesterol and sodium
  • Not getting enough physical activity
  • Being obese
Eight Mistakes Heart Patients Make

Signs and Symptoms of Congestive Heart Failure

Common symptoms include:

  • Shortness of breath during daily activities
  • Having trouble breathing when lying down
  • Weight gain with swelling in the feet, legs, ankles or stomach
  • Generally feeling tired or weak

Treating Congestive Heart Failure

Early diagnosis and treatment can improve quality and length of life for people who have the disease. Treatment usually involves taking medications, reducing sodium in the diet, and getting daily physical activity. People with congestive heart failure also track their symptoms each day so that they can discuss these symptoms with their health care team.

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