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Inability of one or both sides of the heart to pump enough blood for the body. Causes include pulmonary heart disease, hypertension, and coronary atherosclerosis. A person with left-sided heart failure experiences shortness of breath after exertion, difficulty in breathing while lying down and night breathlessness, and abnormally high pressure in the pulmonary veins. A person with right-sided failure experiences abnormally high pressure in the systemic veins, liver enlargement, and accumulation of fluid in the legs. A person with failure of both ventricles has an enlarged heart and a three-beat heartbeat. Treatment includes bed rest, medications such as digitalis, control of excess salt and water retention, and elimination of the underlying cause. See alsocongestive heart failure.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on heart failure, visit Britannica.com.