What Is Heart Failure?
Heart failure, also known as congestive heart failure, occurs when the heart’s pumping action becomes progressively weak, causing symptoms like fatigue, swelling, difficulty breathing, exertion intolerance and fluid buildup in the lungs. Any condition that strains the heart can lead to heart failure. Common causes include heart damage from coronary artery disease, uncontrolled blood pressure, viral cardiomyopathy and valve disease.
Heart failure is a staggering clinical and public health problem that affects close to 8 million Americans. It is associated with significant mortality, morbidity, and health care expenditures. While many heart failure patients are successfully managed with medications, some heart failure patients progress to end stage disease and have limited survival. Currently about 5% of heart failure patients are at end stage. Surgical heart failure therapies are the best treatment for patients with end stage heart failure who are appropriate candidates.
There are over 300 people on heart transplant wait lists in California, a number that is expected to grow in the coming years, especially in Central and Northern California where most heart failure patients in the state reside.