heart failure

heart failure
a condition in which the pumping action of the heart is inadequate due to damaged heart valves, ventricular muscle, or both. This results in back pressure of blood, with congestion of organs. In left ventricular (or left heart) failure, congestion and fluid accumulation affect the lungs, resulting in pulmonary oedema. The patient suffers breathlessness, cough, and orthopnoea. There is reduced flow of arterial blood from the heart, which in extreme cases results in peripheral circulatory failure (cardiogenic shock). In right ventricular (or right heart) failure, the veins in the neck become engorged and fluid accumulates in the legs (peripheral oedema) or abdominal cavity (ascites). If both left and right sides of the heart are affected then a combination of the above features is seen. This is usually referred to as congestive cardiac failure (CCF).
Diuretics (e.g. furosemide) improve symptoms. ACE inhibitors, beta blockers, and spironolactone improve symptoms and life expectancy in patients with left ventricular failure. Heart surgery may be required for the correction of valve problems.

The new mediacal dictionary. 2014.

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