Harvard Heart Letter

Tales of two heart failures

Both "stiff" and "weak" types demand attention, but stiff hearts are trickier to treat.

The term "heart failure" is ambiguous. It doesn't refer to a heart that has come to a screeching halt — that's sudden cardiac arrest.

Heart failure simply refers to the heart's inability to pump blood efficiently to the rest of the body. That can lead to fatigue, shortness of breath, reduced ability to move or exercise, swelling, coughing or wheezing, sudden weight gain from fluid retention, and other problems.

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