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What is Heart Failure?
Heart failure, often known as Congestive Heart Failure, is pretty much what the name describes. Weakness in the heart causes the heart to circulate blood through the lungs more slowly, less efficiently, than a healthy heart. As a result, lungs become congested and the circulating blood has less oxygen than it should. Other organs are affected as well: the liver and kidneys cannot cleanse the blood as efficiently: water is retained, weight is gained, swelling occurs.

Heart failure is fatal; there is no known cure. Half the patients diagnosed with HF will die within five years of diagnosis. The symptoms can be treated, and even avoided, and the quality of life improved significantly, but the treatment is not a cure. The symptoms cause the needless expenditure of health care resources, not to mention a reduced quality of life. As noted below, HF patients visit the Emergency Room often and are re-admitted to the hospital for treatment of symptoms frequently.

Heart failure patients are classified by a scheme developed by the New York Heart Association. It is a four level classification:


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