What Is It?
Heart failure is a condition in which the heart cannot pump efficiently enough to meet the body's need for blood. Contrary to its name, heart failure does not mean the heart has failed completely. Heart failure is also called congestive heart failure.
The inefficient pumping associated with heart failure causes a backup of blood in the veins leading to the heart. It causes the kidneys to retain fluid. As a result, the body's tissues swell.
The swelling most commonly affects the legs. But it also can occur in other tissues and organs. When it occurs in the lungs, it causes breathing difficulty.