Congestive Heart Failure Causes, Symptoms, Stages And Treatment



Published on: 20-Feb-2024


10 min read




Lalita Vishwakarma


Congestive Heart Failure Causes, Symptoms, Stages And Treatment

Congestive Heart Failure Causes, Symptoms, Stages And Treatment

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Hello readers! Do you know that our heart is as small as our fist, and it pumps about 2,000 gallons of blood every day? Yes, it's true, and not only this, the heart beats about 115,000 times each day. But do you ever realise what will happen when it stops, even for a second? “Congestive Heart  Failure” is a condition where the normal functioning of the heart gets disturbed, because of which the blood supply becomes zero.

You will be shocked to know that about  6.2 million adults deal with CHF only in America and have a 50% mortality rate within five years of diagnosis. The major reasons for this are coronary artery disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and many more. In this blog, we will discover the causes, symptoms, stages, diagnosis, and treatment for congestive heart failure. So, continue reading to know more!

Table Of Contents

1. What Is Congestive Heart Failure?

2. What Is The Main Cause Of Congestive Heart Failure?

3. What Are Congestive Heart Failure Symptoms?

4. What Are Different Congestive Heart Failure Stages?

5. Diagnosis Of Congestive Heart Failure 

6. What Are Congestive Heart Failure Treatments?

7. The Final Say

8. FAQs

9. References

What Is Congestive Heart Failure?

The heart is the major organ of the circulatory system, and its role is to supply purified blood to the body's different organs. But sometimes it fails to pump the normal amount of blood that the body requires, thus leading to the condition called “Congestive heart failure”. 

As a result, the blood or the fluid accumulates in the other organs of the body, including the lungs, feet and legs. It is a serious condition and has a 50% mortality rate within five years of diagnosis. Therefore to prevent further consequences, it is important to understand the causes, symptoms and treatment of CHF. 

Also Read: How To Check Heart Health At Home?

What Is The Main Cause Of Congestive Heart Failure?

Apart from age, there are a lot more factors that are responsible for congestive heart failure. Here is the list:

  • Coronary artery disease or heart attack

  • High blood pressure

  • Myocarditis (inflammation in the heart muscles)

  • Arrhythmias (irregular heart rhythms)

  • Infections or blood clots in the heart

  • Diabetes

  • Thyroid 

  • Obesity

  • Alcohol consumption

  • Smoking

  • High cholesterol levels

  • Medications like chemotherapy

  • Certain allergic reactions 

Also Read: Sudden Heart Attack: Causes, Signs & Prevention Methods

What Are Congestive Heart Failure Symptoms?

The major symptoms and early signs of congestive heart failure include the following:

  • Chest pain (both regular and irregular)

  • Shortness of breath or asthma

  • Swelling of legs, arms, hands, and ankles

  • Fatigue and nausea

  • Irregular heartbeat

  • Weight gain

  • Persistent cough

  • Bloated stomach

  • Loss of appetite

It is essential to look for the symptoms and analyse them; if found positive, immediately contact your medical professional for treatment.

What Are Different Congestive Heart Disease Stages?

There are four congestive heart failure stages. They are categorised according to symptoms and the damage caused to the heart muscles. From the early stages of congestive heart failure to the end stage, let’s understand each of them briefly:





Stage A

High risk of developing HF, but no structural heart disease or symptoms.

Usually none, but may experience symptoms of underlying conditions.

Focus on managing risk factors like high blood pressure, diabetes, and coronary artery disease.

Stage B

Structural heart disease is present, but no symptoms of HF.

Usually none.

May require medication to manage the condition and prevent future problems.

Stage C

Structural heart disease with symptoms of HF, including fatigue and breathlessness.

Fatigue, breathlessness, difficulty breathing.

Requires medication to manage symptoms and prevent future problems. May involve implantable devices.

Stage D

Advanced structural heart disease with significant symptoms, even at rest.

Shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, swelling, fatigue, nausea, rapid heartbeat, weight gain, lightheadedness, persistent cough.

Requires advanced treatment options to manage symptoms and improve quality of life.

Diagnosis of Congestive Heart Failure 

Diagnosis can help you find the proper treatment for the disorder. Hence your doctor may perform the following test to identify the presence of CHF: 




Physical Exam

Listening to heart sounds, checking for fluid retention, examining neck veins

Assess overall heart function and identify potential fluid buildup

Electrocardiogram (ECG)

Records electrical activity of the heart

Detect arrhythmias, enlarged heart, or damage to heart muscle


Ultrasound scan of the heart

Evaluate pumping function, and identify structural abnormalities like leaky valves

Stress Tests

Measures heart performance under stress (exercise or medication)

Assess how well the heart handles increased demand

Blood Tests

Check for infections, kidney function, and Brain Natriuretic Peptide (BNP) levels

Identify underlying conditions and assess the severity of heart failure


Provides detailed images of the heart

Visualise structural changes, scarring, and potential causes of heart failure

Cardiac Catheterization

A catheter is inserted into the heart to assess blood flow and pressure

Diagnose blockages in coronary arteries, a common cause of heart failure

What Are Congestive Heart Failure Treatments?

Your doctor can prescribe the following cure for congestive heart failure:

  •  They may prescribe blood thinners that help to reduce the risk of blood clots.

  •  To reduce the tension in the blood vessels, they can use Angiotensin receptor blockers.

  • ACE inhibitors (Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme Inhibitors ) help to relax the blood vessels.

  • To prevent blood clots, the doctor may use Anti-platelet drugs.

  • The first line of prevention for CHF is Beta blockers. They are good for lowering the heart rate. 

  • Vasodilators are good for easing the chest pain. They also reduce the amount of oxygen the heart needs to dilate.

The Final Say

Finally, it is important to monitor the symptoms and the risk factors of congestive heart failure. Plus, you need to be very careful consuming foods as high salt or sugar consumption can lead to conditions like hypertension or diabetes. Both of these are the major causes of CHF. 

Not only this, keeping yourself fit by doing at least 20 minutes of workout regularly can improve your fitness level. In the end, if you observe any symptoms regarding CHF, then immediately contact your doctor to prevent any future risks. For more information regarding health, fitness and nutrition, you can visit ToneOp!


1. What are the stages of heart failure?

The different stages of congestive cardiac failure include:

  • Stage A: risk of developing heart disease with no symptoms of heart failure.

  • Stage B: structural heart disease with no signs of heart failure.

  • Stage C: shows structural heart disease with symptoms of heart failure.

  • Stage D: Advanced heart failure.

2. What causes congestive heart failure?

The major reasons for congestive heart failure (CHF) are:

  • Heart attack or coronary artery disease

  • High blood pressure

  • Kidney disorder

  • Diabetes 

  • Alcohol consumption 

  • Smoking

3. Can ECG detect heart failure?

ECG or electrocardiogram is a device that can help in detecting heart failure but it is important to note that it is not a definitive diagnostic test on its own. It just records the abnormalities associated with heart failure, like heart rhythm problems, damage of heart muscles or enlarged heart.

4. What is the first stage of heart failure?

The first stage of heart failure is called stage A and is also known as pre-heart failure. In this stage, the damage is limited to heart muscles and has not affected the pumping ability of the heart.

5. At what age is heart failure common?

Well, old people are at higher risk of heart failure. The most common age is 65 or above.

6. What is the first-line treatment for CHF?

Healthcare providers often prescribe ACE inhibitors (Angiotensin-converting enzyme) and beta blockers as first-line treatments. 

7. What is the life expectancy for congestive heart failure?

The life expectancy for CHF can range from three to twenty years after their hospital stay.

8. Can you recover from congestive heart failure?

No, there is no complete cure for heart failure, but the treatment and preventive measures can help to live risk-free with fewer symptoms.

9. What is end-stage heart failure?

The end stage of CHF is called Stage D. This is marked by advanced structural heart disease, and they experience symptoms even when they are at rest. These include shortness of breath, irregular swelling in legs, and arms and a fast heartbeat.


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