The heart's main function is to pump blood to the different parts of the body. Congestive heart failure is a condition in which the heart is unable to pump sufficient blood to the rest of the body. The heart may start pumping faster to compensate for its loss of function. The most common symptoms of congestive heart failure include shortness of breath, fatigue, chest discomfort, swollen ankles or legs, and reduced ability to exercise.
Coronary artery disease, a narrowing or blockage of the arteries that supply blood and oxygen to the heart, is the most common cause of heart failure. Other conditions, such as congenital heart defects, cardiomyopathy (damage to the heart muscle), abnormal heart rhythms, faulty heart valves, heart attack, infection of the heart muscle and high blood pressure (hypertension), can damage or weaken your heart and can cause heart failure.
In the initial stages, congestive heart failure can be managed with medications and lifestyle changes. In few advanced cases, surgery may be required for the management of heart failure. In heart failure secondary to coronary artery disease, your doctor may recommend coronary bypass surgery. Surgical repair or replacement of the valve may be recommended in patients with a faulty heart valve.
In a few instances, despite aggressive treatment regimen, the heart is unable to maintain adequate blood circulation to the different parts of the body. In such cases, advanced treatment options such as placement of a ventricular assist device (VADs) or transplantation may be considered.
The VADs can be used as a "bridge" to a transplant, to support the patient until a donor is available for a heart transplant. It may also be used for some patients who are not eligible for transplant. Ventricular assist devices (VAD) help your heart to pump blood to the different parts of the body. This aids the ailing heart to regain its capacity and functional ability.