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Heart Failure

Pictures of a normal heart and an enlarged (dilated) heart: cross section

Illustration copyright 2003 Nucleus Communications, Inc. All rights reserved. http://www.nucleusinc.com

Heart failure occurs when the heart muscle does not pump as much blood as the body needs. Failure does not mean that the heart has stopped pumping but rather that it is failing to pump as effectively as it should.

The body tries to compensate for the heart's reduced pumping ability by:

  • Holding on to (retaining) salt and water to increase the amount of blood in the bloodstream.
  • Increasing the heart rate.
  • Increasing the size of the heart.
By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Rakesh K. Pai, MD, FACC - Cardiology, Electrophysiology
Specialist Medical Reviewer Stephen Fort, MD, MRCP, FRCPC - Interventional Cardiology
Last Revised April 26, 2012

Last Revised: April 26, 2012

Author: Healthwise Staff

Medical Review: Rakesh K. Pai, MD, FACC - Cardiology, Electrophysiology & Stephen Fort, MD, MRCP, FRCPC - Interventional Cardiology

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