Congestive Heart Failure (CHF)

What is Congestive Heart Failure (CHF)? Congestive Heart Failure (CHF) is a clinical syndrome characterized by impaired cardiac function that results in the inability of the heart to pump sufficient blood to meet the body's metabolic demands. The heart initially uses compensatory mechanisms to meet these demands, which subsequently cause further pathologic changes to the cardiac muscle structure and physiology.

CHF is the leading cause of cardiovascular death, accounting for approximately 2.4% of disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) worldwide.


What Causes Congestive Heart Failure?

Congestive heart failure can be caused by anything that creates enough stress on the heart muscle to induce changes in its structure and function. 


Etiologies of CHF Include:

  • Congenital structural abnormalities
  • Hypertension
  • Coronary artery disease
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Valvular heart disease
  • Cardiomyopathies
  • Arrhythmias


Common Risk Factors of CHF:

  • Older Age
  • Male gender
  • African American ethnicity
  • Smoking
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Obesity
  • Family history


Signs and Symptoms of Congestive Heart Failure

  • Dyspnea with exertion or when lying flat
  • Weakness or fatigue 
  • Lower limb edema
  • Rapid or irregular heartbeat
  • Coughing or wheezing, especially at night or when lying flat
  • Reduced exercise tolerance or difficulty performing daily activities
  • Weight gain due to fluid retention

Source: Malik A, Brito D, Vaqar S, et al. Congestive Heart Failure. [Updated 2022 Nov 7]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 Jan-. Available from: