What happens in congestive heart failure?

Fluid retention. When the heart is not functioning normally, neurologic and endocrine signals are sent to the kidney to retain salt and water. Fluid buildup in the body causing shortness of breath and swelling of the lower extremities.
Symptoms. Shortness of breath doing normal activities, the need to sit up or get out of bed to catch your breath, swelling of the legs and, less commonly, of the abdomen. Fatigue and weakness.

Related Questions

What happens if someone has congestive heart failure and takes medicine how long do they have to live?

It varies. Death in the first year can vary from 10% to 25% depending on the cause of the heart failure, the severity of the heart dysfunction, the age of the patient and the presence of co morbidities such as kidney failure, diabetes, etc. The natural history of heart failure which is progressive can be altered by medications and intervention such as bi ventricular pacing or resynchronization.

What happens in the body with congestive heart failure?

Fluid buildup. In a healthy patient, the heart and kidneys work together to maintain the appropriate amount of salt and water in the body. In the patient with congestive heart failure, this equilibrium is upset. Salt and water accumulate resulting in shortness of breath, swollen legs, and inability to exercise. This can be the result of problems with the kidney or the heart.
Heart pump is weak. Heart failure occurs with pump failure for whatevere reason. When the heart fails to pump enough blood out on the left side it is systolic dysfunction and the ejection fraction is less than 40%. When the heart muscle is stiff they call this diastolic dysfunction because it does not fill properly. With pump failure, oncotic pressue increases in the vascular system forcing fluid out- lung/feet.