Heart Institute Encyclopedia

Congestive Heart Failure

Look up a term in The Heart Center glossary.

Congestive heart failure (CHF) is a term used by cardiologists to describe a patient whose heart does not pump enough blood out to the rest of the body to meet the body's demand for energy.

This can be due to either a heart that pumps well but is very insufficient (due to a structural problem), or it can be a result of a weak heart muscle that does not pump a normal amount of blood to the body.

Either situation will lead to backup of blood and fluid into the lungs if the left side of the heart is the problem or backup of blood and fluid into the liver and veins leading into the heart if the right side of the heart is problem.

It is not uncommon for both sides of the heart to fail at the same time and cause backup into both systems simultaneously.

For the purpose of the Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center's Heart Encyclopedia, the focus is on backup or excessive blood flow into the lungs, which is the most common use of the term in pediatrics.

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Congestive Heart Failure Causes

Congestive Heart Failure Signs and Symptoms

Congestive Heart Failure Diagnosis

Congestive Heart Failure Treatment

Congestive Heart Failure Long-Term Outlook

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Last Updated: 12/2013