Having heart failure means that for some
reason, your heart is not pumping blood
around the body as well as it used to.
The most common reason is that your heart muscle has been
damaged, for example, after a heart attack.
It can be very frightening to hear that you or a person
close to you, has heart failure.
For many people heart failure can be a debilitating condition
where normal everyday tasks such as having a shower or bath, doing
the shopping or simply playing with the children takes enormous
energy and leaves them breathless and exhausted.
That's because when heart muscle is damaged, it cannot heal
itself. So once your heart 'breaks', it stays that way.
What causes heart failure?
There are lots of reasons why you might be diagnosed with heart
failure. It can be sudden or it can happen slowly over months
or even years. Some causes of heart failure are:
How will heart failure affect me?
Not everyone experiences the same
symptoms and everyone copes in different ways. You might
feel out of breath if you are physically active,
or for some people even when they are at rest. You may also have
swollen feet and ankles and feel very
tired. You might have to think about how you will cope
with work or if you need to change your job.
Everyone is different so it's important to speak to your GP and
your heart failure nurse about
what is best for you. See our
Everyday guide to living with heart failure for information and
tips about controlling your symptoms.
Our new DVD
One step at a time - living with heart failure, features six
people telling you how they felt when they were told they had heart
failure. They tell you about some of the small
changes they made to help them live normal lives. Our
health professionals also answer some of the common questions that
you may have.
How is heart failure diagnosed and treated?
Your doctor will ask you questions about your medical
history and talk to you about what has caused your heart
failure. The reason for your condition will make a
difference to how your symptoms are
controlled. You may need to have tests which include
blood tests, an electrocardiogram (ECG) and an echocardiogram.
While there isn't a cure for heart failure at the moment, the
treatment to control symptoms has improved dramatically. With
treatment and the right medicines many people live full and active
lives. Your doctor will prescribe drugs that will help
control your blood pressure and help
the pumping action of your
They will also give you advice about making
changes to your lifestyle such
as cutting down on salt, staying active and stopping smoking, that will help you do all the
things that you enjoy, improve your condition and live
a normal life.
Our DVDs and booklets will give you vital information
about living with heart failure and how to look after your
You may find joining a Heart Support
Group will help you meet others who you can talk to and share
your experiences. And you can visit heart matters magazine, to read stories from
other people living with a heart condition and hear what our
experts have to say.
National Heart Failure Audit is the latest review into the
treatment of heart failure.
You can also call our Heart Helpline on 0300 330
If you can't find what you're looking for, please try our
publications search or email
Help us win the fight against heart
Mending Broken Hearts Appeal and help our scientists end the
suffering caused by heart failure.