Navigating Heart Failure
How Your Heart Works

Every day, your heart pumps about 2,000 gallons of oxygen and nutrient-rich blood through your body, nourishing your tissues and removing waste products from them. It’s a muscle with parts that alternatively squeeze (contract) and relax to circulate the blood and deliver it where needed.

What Does Heart Failure Mean?

Heart failure means that your heart muscle has become either weak or stiff, leading to abnormal pumping or filling of the heart, as shown. The heart can no longer keep up with the body’s needs.

As a result, organs may not receive the amount of blood they need. Symptoms like edema (swelling), weakness, and dyspnea (shortness of breath) may develop.

This is usually the end result of various forms of heart disease, but the specifics vary depending on the type of heart failure you have.

Treatment Options

A variety of medications are available to help you manage heart failure symptoms and reduce risk of hospitalization and death.

For example, beta blockers, ACE inhibitors, and vasodilators can lower blood pressure to improve blood flow. Diuretics can help remove excess salt and water, reducing swelling.

If you’ve been told you have heart failure, help yourself by learning all you can about the condition. Become a partner with your doctor in getting the treatment you need.

Use of Cookies

Verywell uses cookies to provide you with a great user experience. By using Verywell, you accept our use of cookies.

Got It

California Privacy Notice

Verywell uses cookies to provide you with a great user experience and for our business purposes.

Got It