Congestive heart failure is a condition in which the heart fails to keep blood moving adequately. As a result, the supply of blood to the body's tissues decreases, lowering efficiency and endurance. With poor circulation, the kidneys fail to remove enough waste products, water and salt from the blood. In addition, the kidneys, because of the decreased blood flow presented to them, retain even more salt and water in an effort to increase blood volume.
The increased blood volume makes more work for the already overworked heart, which may enlarge and beat faster in an attempt to provide the body with oxygen-rich blood. The veins distend with fluid and the blood volume increases.
At the same time, there's a shift in the balance of pressures between fluids inside and outside the blood vessels, which causes fluid that normally stays in the bloodstream to leak into surrounding tissue. This fluid leakage is a primary factor in fluid overload in the lungs, abdomen and/or legs.
For more information about heart failure and its effects on the body, take a look at the links below.
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More Great Links
- Constant J. Using internal jugular pulsations as a manometer for right atrial pressure measurements. Cardiology. 2000;93:26-30.
- Costanzo MR, Guglin ME, Saltzberg MT, et al. Ultrafiltration versus intravenous diuretics for patients hospitalized for acute decompensated heart failure. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2007; 49:675-683.
- Costanzo MR, Saltzberg M, O'Sullivan J, et al. Early ultrafiltration in patients with decompensated heart failure and diuretic resistance. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2005;46:2047-2051.
- Devine PJ, Sullenberger LE, Bellin DA, et al. Jugular venous pulse: window into the right heart. South Med J. 2007;100:1022-1027.
- Elkayam U, Hatamizadeh P, Janmohamed M. The challenge of correcting volume overload in hospitalized patients with decompensated heart failure. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2007;49:684-686.
- Mueller C, Frana B, Rodriguez D, et al. Emergency diagnosis of congestive heart failure: impact of signs and symptoms. Can J Cardiol. 2005;21:921-924.
- Rame JE, Dries DL, Drazner MH. The prognostic value of the physical examination in patients with chronic heart failure. Congest Heart Fail. 2003;9:170-175, 178.