Harvard Heart Letter

Ask the doctor: Are there different kinds of heart failure?

Ask the doctor

Are there different kinds of heart failure?

Q. Several years ago, a friend in my sewing circle was diagnosed with congestive heart failure. My doctor just told me I have heart failure. Are these the same condition or different ones?

A. You and your friend have the same problem: your hearts are having trouble pumping blood effectively. Doctors used to call it congestive heart failure, because many people with it had fluid buildup in the lungs (hence the "congestive") and legs. But others don't. That's why we now call it just heart failure.

To continue reading this article, you must login.
  • Research health conditions
  • Check your symptoms
  • Prepare for a doctor's visit or test
  • Find the best treatments and procedures for you
  • Explore options for better nutrition and exercise
Learn more about the many benefits and features of joining Harvard Health Online »