Heart failure, otherwise known as congestive heart failure, occurs when the heart cannot pump blood efficiently and fails to meet the demands of the body. It does not mean that your heart has stopped or is about to stop working. It can involve the left, right or both sides of your heart but most cases involve the left side of the heart, where it is unable to pump enough oxygen-rich blood to the rest of the body. Symptoms of heart failure include shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, feeling tired, swelling (edema) in the ankles, feet, legs and sometimes abdomen, cough (resulting from fluid in the lungs), weight gain, palpitations, and diminished concentration and alertness. Treatment options include treating the underlying conditions as appropriate, lifestyle changes (low salt diet, limited fluids, weight loss, exercise, quitting smoking, limiting alcohol), medication, surgery in severe cases, nutritional supplements, herbal therapies, and acupuncture.
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