Heart Failure Overview

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Overview

The function of the heart is to transport and deliver oxygen and other vital nutrients to the rest of the body and to remove the harmful by-products of metabolism. The heart consists of two main pumping chambers, the right and left ventricles: the right ventricle to propel blood through the lungs for exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide (the pulmonary circulation) and the left ventricle to propel blood to all other tissues of the body (the systemic circulation).

Heart failure (HF) or congestive heart failure (CHF) as it is sometimes referred to, is not a specific disease entity, but rather it describes a functional state in which the heart is unable to pump sufficient blood to meet the metabolic needs of the peripheral organs. Heart failure often develops as a result of some other underlying disease that has damaged or weakened the heart. Over time, the heart fails to maintain sufficient systemic blood flow, and hence oxygen and nutrients, to meet the metabolic demands of the rest of the body.