Heart Failure

About 5.1 million people are living with heart failure.


Heart Failure:  The heart is the muscle that pumps blood throughout the body. If the heart weakens, reducing its ability to pump enough blood to meet the body’s needs, it is failing. Heart failure is a progressive but treatable condition.


People who are elderly, African American, or overweight are more likely than others to experience heart failure; women are less likely than men. Prevalence varies across the United States.


Racial and ethnic minorities are at particularly high risk of heart failure.


Health problems that may cause heart failure include coronary-artery disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes.


Heart-failure treatment focuses on the underlying cause and includes medication and improvements in diet and exercise. If these treatments are unsuccessful, a heart transplant may be necessary. 

As the heart begins to weaken, the heart and blood vessels adjust as best they can to maintain adequate blood flow, but the strain eventually begins to show. Symptoms of heart failure include fatigue, shortness of breath, and swollen feet and ankles.

Physicians track the progress of heart failure by a classification systems that incorporate a range of evidence. The New York Heart Association Functional Classification is used widely.


The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute has information on treatment, prevention, and living with heart failure, as well as clinical trials. The American Heart Association and the Heart Failure Society of America also have a variety of heart-failure resources for patients.