Congestive heart failure (CHF) is a chronic progressive condition that affects the pumping power of your heart muscle. While often referred to simply as heart failure, CHF specifically refers to the stage in which fluid builds up within the heart and causes it to pump inefficiently. You have four heart chambers.
Heart failure, sometimes known as congestive heart failure, occurs when your heart muscle doesn't pump blood as well as it should. Certain conditions, such as narrowed arteries in your heart (coronary artery disease) or high blood pressure, gradually leave your heart too weak or stiff to fill and pump efficiently.
Congestive heart failure doesn't mean your heart has stopped. It means it's not pumping blood the way it should. When that happens, blood and fluid can back up in your body and make it harder for your kidneys to flush out sodium and water. That can make you hold on to too much fluid, which causes swelling.
The current in-hospital treatment for CHF involves removal of excess fluid with diuretic medication and/or ultrafiltration in which a machine bypasses the kidneys and filters water and salt from the body. However, these treatments can have unwanted side effects such as low blood pressure and worsening kidney function.
In more than half of all people with heart disease, death follows within an hour of an attack, as the heart stops pumping blood, and hence oxygen, to the brain. But chronic congestive heart failure brings a slower, more painful death.