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A condition in which the heart cannot pump enough blood to meet the metabolic requirements of body tissues. Many of the symptoms associated with heart failure are caused by the dysfunction of organs other than the heart, especially the lungs, kidneys, and liver. Ventricular dysfunction is usually the basic disorder in congestive heart failure and often triggers compensatory mechanisms that preserve cardiac output but produce symptoms and signs, such as dyspnea, orthopnea, rales, and edema. Heart failure is closely associated with many forms of heart disease. Most kinds of heart disease initially affect the left side of the heart, and clinicians commonly divide associated heart failure into left-sided heart failure and right-sided heart failure. Peripheral edema occurs in connection with right-sided heart failure and dyspnea in connection with left-sided heart failure. Current studies indicate that heart failure in infants and children is usually the result of congenital heart disease, but it also may be caused by myocarditis and ectopic tachycardia. Rheumatic mitral disease and aortic valve disease frequently cause congestive heart failure in young adults. Mitral valve disease, especially mitral stenosis, is the most common cause of heart failure and affects more young women than men. The common cause of heart failure after 40 years of age are coronary atherosclerosis with myocardial infarction, diastolic hypertension, valvular heart disease, pulmonary disease, and diffuse myocardial disease. Some individuals may suffer heart failure cased by combination of congenital heart disease and acquired disease. After 50 years of age, a common cause of heart failure, especially in men, is calcific aortic stenosis. Some of the extracardiac signs of heart failure are ascites, bronchial wheezing, hydrothorax, edema, enlargement of the liver, moist rales, and splenomegaly. Some of the cardiac signs associated with heart failure are abnormalities in the jagular venous pulsation and the carotid pulse, and abnormal cardiographic tracings of the apex wave. The treatment for heart failure commonly involves the reduction of the workload of the heart, the administration of certain drugs, such as digitalis, to increase myocardial contracitility and cardiac output, salt-restricted diets, diurectics, and surgical intervention.
Anderson KN(Ed). Mosby's Medical, Nursing & Allied Health Dictionary. 4th ed. USA: Mosby - Year Book, Inc; 1994, Page 713 & 714
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