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Heart Failure

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Heart failure is a weakening of the heart's pumping power. With heart failure, your body doesn't get enough oxygen and nutrients to meet its needs. Heart failure is the most common hospital admission diagnosis in patients age 65 or older, accounting for more than 700,000 hospitalizations among Medicare beneficiaries every year. It is associated with severe functional impairments and high rates of mortality and morbidity.

Symptoms of heart failure may include:

  • shortness of breath from fluid in the lungs
  • swelling (such as in legs, ankles or abdomen)
  • dizziness
  • fatigue
  • weakness
  • cold or clammy skin
  • a rapid or irregular heartbeat.

Heart failure can be a result of heart condition due to:

  • hardening of the arteries, also known as coronary artery disease,
  • a heart attack,
  • cardiomyopathy (heart muscle damage from infection or alcohol or drug abuse), or
  • an overworked heart (caused over time by conditions like high blood pressure, kidney disease, diabetes, or a defect from birth).

For more information about heart health, visit the Health Library: Heart Center.

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