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Heart Failure


Heart failure means your heart has become too weak to pump enough blood to your organs and tissues. Heart failure is often the result of damage or injury to your heart caused by other heart problems and high blood pressure. Heart failure is a long-term condition that tends to get worse over time. It is important to manage your health to improve your quality of life. Heart failure can be worsened by heavy alcohol use, smoking, diabetes, and obesity.

Normal Heart CHF Heart


Informed consent

is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that you may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done. Make sure all your questions are answered.


  • Heart medicines help regulate your heart rhythm, lower your blood pressure, and get rid of extra fluids.
  • Diuretics help your body get rid of extra fluid and protect your heart from more damage. Diuretics may make you urinate more often.
  • Nitrates improve the blood flow through your heart.
  • Morphine helps blood vessels in your lungs open wider so you can breathe easier.
  • Anticoagulants are a type of blood thinner medicine that helps prevent clots. This medicine makes it easier for you to bleed or bruise.


  • Blood tests are used to check for any damage to your heart. Blood tests also give healthcare providers information about your kidney, liver, and thyroid function.
  • Telemetry is continuous monitoring of your heart rhythm. Sticky pads placed on your skin connect to an EKG machine that records your heart rhythm.
  • X-ray, CT, or MRI pictures may be taken of your heart and lungs. You may be given contrast liquid before a CT scan or MRI to help healthcare providers see the pictures better. Tell the healthcare provider if you have ever had an allergic reaction to contrast liquid. Do not enter the MRI room with anything metal. Metal can cause serious injury. Tell the healthcare provider if you have any metal in or on your body.
  • Intake and output measures how much liquid you drink or get in your IV, and how much you urinate. Healthcare providers will compare your weight from day to day to check how much body fluid you have. Rapid weight gain can be a sign of fluid retention. This may mean your heart failure is worsening.


  • Extra oxygen may help you breathe easier if your oxygen level is lower than normal. It may be given through a mask placed over your nose and mouth or through small tubes placed in your nostrils. A CPAP may be used to keep your airway open while you sleep. You may need a ventilator if you cannot breathe on your own.
  • Surgery can be done to implant a pacemaker in your chest to regulate your heart rhythm. Other types of surgery can open blocked heart vessels, replace a damaged heart valve, or remove scar tissue.


Heart failure, and conditions that cause heart failure, increase your risk for a blood clot or stroke. It also increases your risk for respiratory (lung) failure. Your kidneys may not receive enough oxygen to filter your blood properly. This can lead to fluid retention (a build up of fluid in your body). Fluid in your heart can also back up as it fails and cause fluid retention. In addition to physical symptoms, many heart failure patients have depression or anxiety. With or without treatment, your symptoms could worsen suddenly and become life-threatening.


You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.

© 2016 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.