In the world of heart health, many patients are aware of the symptoms, risk and necessary lifestyle changes that come with a heart attack. However, there’s another highly prevalent disease of the heart that accounts for many million cardiac events in America each year called congestive heart failure. 

Congestive heart failure refers to a situation in which the heart does not pump enough to meet the body’s need for oxygen. It’s not that your heart stops or is about to stop, but that it is in a weakened state and is simply unable to pump blood as well as it should.

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Understanding Congestive heart failure


Congestive heart failure can occur due to any condition that compromises the heart’s ability to contract (systolic heart failure) or relax (diastolic heart failure). Measuring these factors indicate how well the heart squeezes and whether or not someone is at risk for congestive heart failure. 

Approximately 4.8 million people in the United States are affected by heart failure, and it is the leading cause of hospitalization of patients over the age of 65 years. As the average life expectancy increases, more and more patients are experiencing this health state.

Causes of Congestive Heart Failure

Any disease state that weakens your heart’s ability to pump blood can increase your chances of experiencing congestive heart failure. The most common causes of congestive heart failure include blocked heart arteries, hypertension, valvular heart disease, and toxins (things that the body produces or alcohol and drugs).

Symptoms of Congestive Heart Failure

Fortunately, congestive heart failure is a very treatable disease if caught early. All of the underlying causes of congestive heart failure are diagnosable and treatable, which means that it is possible to make medication and lifestyle choices, like incorporating diet and exercise,  to reduce your symptoms and your risk of having a cardiac event.

Certain drugs are the cornerstone of treatment and allow your doctor to treat the underlying disease that’s causing the heart failure:

  • Beta Blockers such as Carvedeloal and Cardidn XL allow the heart to unload its burden and increase its momentum and squeeze pressure. These beta-blockers allow the heart to reenergize over time and get your heart’s squeeze back to where it needs to be. 
  • ACE-Inhibitors and blood pressure medications can also be used for unloading the heart and allowing heart failure patients to regain normal function over time.
  • Diuretic class drugs are used to help patients secrete the external fluids that cause heart failure through increased urination.

After treating the underlying causes of congestive heart failure with medication, patients will experience a reduction in hospitalization and a lowered risk of death.

If heart failure advances or remains a significant threat, there are also device therapy options such as defibrillators (which allow heart to beat in a synchronized fashion) and left ventricular devices (implantable pumps that act as artificial heart) that alleviate the work to the heart that it can rest. In very extreme cases, you and your doctor may also consider a heart transplant.

Next steps

If you are experiencing any symptoms of heart disease, it is vital that you meet with your doctor as soon as possible so that you have time to assess your heart and get to the next step.  If you don’t catch congestive heart failure early, it can be a long-term health issue for you.

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