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(cardiac insufficiency), a combination of disorders caused primarily by a reduction in cardiac contractility. Heart failure may occur if the heart is overstrained as a result of arterial hypertension or heart disease or if the blood supply to the heart is interrupted (myocardial infarction). Toxic influences, such as those produced during Graves’ disease, and myocarditis may also cause heart failure.
Heart failure is accompanied by congestion, because the weakened cardiac muscle cannot handle circulation. Left ventricular heart failure results in pulmonary congestion accompanied by dyspnea, cyanosis, and hemoptysis, whereas right ventricular heart failure results in passive congestion of systemic circulation marked by the development of edemas and the enlargement of the liver. Heart failure results in hypoxia of the organs and tissues, acidosis, and other metabolic disorders. Acute heart failure usually occurs in the left ventricle and is manifested by an attack of cardiac asthma.
Heart failure is treated with cardiac glycosides, diuretics, and antiarrhythmics. Surgery, for example, the implantation of a pacemaker, may be performed in certain cases.