Heart failure affects nearly 6 million Americans. Roughly 670,000 people are diagnosed with heart failure each year. It is the leading cause of hospitalization in people older than 65.
Heart failure does not mean the heart has stopped working. Rather, it means that the heart’s pumping power is weaker than normal leading to a slower rate of blood flow throughout the body. As the heart gets weaker, it cannot pump enough blood which carries oxygen and nutrients to meet the body’s needs.
As a result, the kidneys may respond by causing the body to retain fluid (water) and salt. If fluid builds up in the arms, legs, ankles, feet, lungs, or other organs, the body becomes congested, leading to “congestive heart failure.”