What is heart failure?

Your body depends on your heart to pump blood to your cells. The cells need oxygen and nutrients from the blood to function. If you have heart failure, your heart is not pumping as well as it should. This can make you tired and short of breath so it’s hard to do everyday activities like walking and climbing stairs.


Who is at risk of developing heart failure?

Many things can raise your risk of heart failure. Some things, like age, you can’t control. There are some things you can control, like lifestyle habits.

Here are a few risk factors for heart failure.1

  • Age of 65 years or older
  • Family history of heart failure
  • Unhealthy lifestyle habits
  • Heart or blood vessel conditions, serious lung disease or infection
  • Being African American or Black

What are the symptoms of heart failure?

One sign of heart failure may not be cause for alarm. But if you have more than one of these symptoms, be sure to call your provider and ask to be tested.

The most common signs are:2

  • Shortness of breath or tiredness during activity, at rest or while sleeping
  • Difficulty breathing while lying flat
  • Feeling tired or nervous when you wake up
  • Coughing or wheezing that doesn’t go away and that may bring up white or pink mucus
  • Weight gain or swelling in the feet, ankles, legs or abdomen
  • Feeling full or sick to your stomach
  • Feeling like your heart is racing or throbbing

Can heart failure be treated?

There’s no cure for heart failure. But there are treatments. They can slow damage and relieve your symptoms so you can get back to doing what you love. Heart failure is usually managed with lifestyle changes and medication.

How can I live a full life with heart failure?

You and your family caregiver will play an active role in managing your heart failure by:3

  • Identifying symptoms. Heart failure can worsen over time. It’s important to know the early signs and symptoms of exacerbations and when to contact your provider.
  • Monitoring your health. You will want to learn how to track your blood pressure, weight and other vital signs and manage your diet.
  • Keeping a positive attitude. Heart failure is a serious condition. But the right treatment plan, knowledge, support and encouragement can help you understand your disease and reach your health goals.

Learn more about CenterWell Home Health™ and how our specially trained clinicians can help put you back in control of your health: CenterWellHomeHealth.com/individuals/conditions/heart-and-lung/



  1. “HEART FAILURE Causes and Risk Factors,” National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, last accessed Jan. 19, 2023, nhlbi.nih.gov/health/heart-failure/causes.
  2. “Heart Failure Signs and Symptoms,” American Heart Association, last accessed Jan. 19, 2023, heart.org/en/health-topics/heart-failure/warning-signs-of-heart-failure.
  3. “Congestive Heart Failure: Prevention, Treatment and Research,” last accessed Jan. 19, 2023, hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/congestive-heart-failure-prevention-treatment-and-research.