Congestive heart failure (CHF) occurs when the heart isn't able to pump blood normally. As a result, there is not enough blood flow to provide the body's organs with oxygen and nutrients. The term "heart failure" does not mean that the heart stops beating completely, but that the heart is not working as efficiently.
CHF affects over 6 million people in North America and is one of the most common causes of hospitalization for people over 65 years of age. Approximately half a million Canadians are living with congestive heart failure.
Men are slightly more at risk than women. People of African descent are considerably more at risk than those of European descent and also have a higher risk of death.
There are two basic problems in congestive heart failure:
- systolic dysfunction occurs when the heart can't pump enough blood to supply all the body's needs
- diastolic dysfunction occurs when the heart cannot accept all the blood being sent to it
Many people have both systolic and diastolic heart failure.