Heart Failure

Heart failure is a condition in which your heart is unable to pump the full amount of blood your body needs.

An estimated 6.2 million adults in the U.S. are living with heart failure. Here’s what you need to know and how to request an appointment with Hunterdon Cardiovascular Associates if you need help managing your heart health.

What Is Heart Failure?

Heart failure, also known as cardiac failure, is a condition in which the heart muscle has lost some of its pumping strength and can only pump a fraction of blood into circulation during every heartbeat. This makes it difficult for your organs to receive the amount of blood and oxygen needed to function properly and efficiently.

Left-sided heart failure can be systolic or diastolic, and each of these types represents about 50% of cases. In systolic heart failure, the left ventricle cannot contract normally and the heart muscle is weak to the point it is unable to push enough blood into circulation. In diastolic heart failure, the heart muscle is stiff and prevents the left ventricle from being able to relax normally.

In some instances, left-sided heart failure may lead to right-sided heart failure. When the heart muscle is unable to push out an adequate amount of blood, increased fluid pressure transfers back through the lungs to damage the right side of the heart.

Heart failure that worsens may lead to a chronic condition known as congestive heart failure—or congestive heart disease. With this condition, blood and other fluids build up in the lungs, extremities, and other organs to cause complications, including organ damage and sudden cardiac arrest.

If you are living with heart failure, treatment is essential to improving your quality of life and extending your lifespan.

Contact Form

  • Messages received after 4:30 p.m. will be returned the next business day.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Causes and Symptoms

Many cases of heart failure are caused by another underlying medical condition. Conditions linked to heart failure include:

  • Coronary artery disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Irregular heart rate
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Sleep apnea
  • Metabolic syndrome
  • Viral infections
  • Hyperactive thyroid


Certain lifestyle behaviors may also increase your risk for heart failure. These risk factors include:

  • Cigarette and tobacco use
  • Excess weight and obesity
  • Heavy alcohol use
  • Drug use
  • Cancer treatments
  • Use of certain medications

Symptoms of heart failure can start suddenly or develop gradually over time. Heart failure symptoms may include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Persistent coughing
  • Wheezing
  • Swelling in the extremities and abdomen
  • Sudden changes in weight
  • Extreme tiredness and fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Confusion
  • Memory loss
  • Increased heart rate
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Frequent urination
  • Chest pain
See a cardiologist if you meet risk factors for heart failure or are experiencing one or more heart failure symptoms.

Treatment Options

The goal of heart failure treatment is to reduce your symptoms and improve your quality of life. Lifestyle changes, medications, and surgery are common treatment options.

Lifestyle Changes

Certain healthy behaviors may improve your condition. These include:

  • Exercising regularly
  • Losing excess weight
  • Eating fewer foods high in salt and sodium
  • Eating more heart-healthy foods, including fish, nuts, and vegetables
  • Not smoking
  • Drinking less alcohol
  • Managing stress
  • Getting quality sleep


A variety of medications are approved for the treatment of heart failure. These medications include:

  • ACE inhibitors
  • Angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs)
  • Angiotensin-receptor neprilysin inhibitors (ARNIs)
  • Beta-blockers
  • Vasodilators
  • Diuretics
  • Anticoagulants
  • Statins
  • Digoxin
  • Calcium channel blockers


In severe cases of heart failure, surgery or devices may be needed to improve your heart function. These include:

  • Defibrillator, which helps reset an abnormal heart rate
  • Cardiac resynchronization therapy, which helps the lower heart chambers pump and relax at the same time
  • Mechanical heart pump
  • Heart transplantation
  • Angioplasty to remove blockages in arteries restricting blood flow to the heart muscle
  • Coronary artery bypass to reroute blood flow around a blocked part of an artery
  • Heart valve replacement

When not treated, heart failure may lead to complications, including kidney damage, liver damage, and sudden cardiac death. Your provider or cardiologist can discuss all your available treatment options and guide you toward choosing the treatment or procedure that is right for you.

Hunterdon Cardiovascular Associates is committed to providing the highest quality of care in a patient-centered environment. Our offices are conveniently located in Flemington, Clinton, and Bridgewater. We have subspecialty centers available to ensure our patients receive the proper care for their condition. Contact HCA today at (908) 788-1710 to make an appointment with one of our cardiologists.

Get In Touch

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Please note this website is NOT monitored by clinical staff. If you are experiencing any cardiac symptoms. Please call 911 or go to your nearest emergency room.