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What Is Heart Failure?

How does the Heart Work?

Your heart is one of the most important organs in your body. It is a strong muscle about the size of your fist. The heart pumps oxygen-rich blood throughout the body. Your body needs that oxygen to create energy in the cells.


What is Heart Failure?

Heart failure doesn't mean your heart has stopped working. It means that your heart doesn't pump as well as it should. This means your body doesn't get enough of the oxygen-rich blood it needs to work well.

The heart has four chambers. The two upper chambers are called atria, while the two lower chambers are called ventricles. The heart pumps blood through the chambers while the valves open and close so that blood flows in one direction only.


Types of Heart Failure

Heart failure can come on slowly and be long-term—this is called chronic heart failure. It can also come on very quickly—this is called acute heart failure. While there is no cure yet, heart failure is very treatable. Millions of Americans lead full lives by managing their condition through medicines and making healthy changes in their lifestyles.

There are two main types of heart failure:

  • When your heart muscle can't pump blood out of the heart as well as it should, it's called systolic heart failure.
  • When your heart muscles become stiff and do not easily fill up with blood, it's called diastolic heart failure.