In case of heart failure (HF), the pumping function of the heart has been reduced. The heart compensates for the reduced pumping function by working harder or creating additional muscles. At a given moment, this doesn’t work anymore and symptoms occur, such as fatigue and shortness of breath. Heart failure is usually a chronic condition that gradually worsens. Sometimes, heart failure can occur suddenly.


Heart failure has several causes. Known causes are, for example:


The symptoms of heart failure are caused by lack of oxygen on the one hand and high blood pressure in the lungs on the other hand. Because the heart doesn’t pump the blood fast enough into the body and the supply of blood continues coming from the veins and the lungs, the blood pressure in the veins and in the lungs becomes too high. As a result, moisture ends up outside the bloodstream. And this may cause swelling in legs and feet. Moisture can also get behind the lungs, causing shortness of breath.
Examples of signs and symptoms that may indicate heart failure include:


The diagnosis of heart failure can often be made on the basis of the symptoms and the patient’s history. The doctor listens with a stethoscope for indications of valve defects or moisture in the lungs. The doctor watches further whether the patient retains fluid in the legs and if the liver is swollen.
To confirm the diagnosis, further examination must take place, such as electrocardiography, thorax X-ray, ultrasound, stress test, angiography, MRI scan, nuclear examination and CT scan of the coronary arteries.


In case of heart failure, two types of medications are usually prescribed: diuretic drugs and drugs that increase the pumping force and relieve the heart as much as possible. The patient must take them throughout life. These are the following medications:

When medication and adjustment of lifestyle don’t help to get heart failure under control, surgery may be necessary. The following methods of operation are possible:


The long-term prospects are usually pretty bad. If the cause cannot be treated, life expectancy is statistically only a few years. Treatment with medications leads to a reduction of symptoms and a delay of the progression of the disease, but can never completely cure the patient.