CHF: medical abbreviation for congestive heart failure.


CHF is the medical abbreviation for congestive heart failure (sometimes simply called "heart failure"), in which the heart is unable to circulate blood properly. In these cases, the heart does not stop working completely, but its muscles do not meet the needs of the body.

This generally chronic condition causes blood to pool in the arteries and veins, resulting in swelling (usually in the feet and ankles), fluid build-up in the lungs, and kidney problems, as well as many other symptoms. Requires immediate medical attention, CHF occurs most often in people who have or have other heart problems, such as coronary artery disease (CAD), hypertension (high blood pressure), and heart attack.

Use of the medical abbreviation CHF

A subtype of the broader category of heart failure, which also includes right-sided and left-sided heart failure, CHF is quite common, with nearly 5 million people living in the United States. Listen to CHF when your healthcare provider or cardiologist suspects this condition, or when other types of heart failure have been ruled out.

Since this condition is commonly caused by a number of different heart conditions, the term is helpful in highlighting the effect of weakened heart muscles and impaired circulation. In a clinical setting, the cardiology team will have a reasonable understanding of what happens when they hear CHF.

Why Your Healthcare Provider May Talk About CHF

CHF occurs most often as a result of other heart conditions, although it can occur on its own. Therefore, you will be screened for other conditions, such as coronary artery disease (CHD) , type 2 diabetes , irregular heartbeat, or high blood pressure.

It can also be concerning if you've had a heart attack, were born with heart valve defects, or contracted certain viruses, such as human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) , and this may also require a screening test. Finally , cancer patients who undergo radiation therapy can also experience heart damage leading to congestive heart failure.

CHF signs

Symptoms of CHF include:

  • Breathing problems and chronic cough.
  • Fast and / or irregular heartbeat
  • Lack of appetite
  • Threw up
  • Fatigue
  • Weakness in arms and legs
  • Confusion of consciousness and disturbances of thought.
  • Swelling of the extremities
  • Rapid weight gain

CHF risks

The severity of CHF can vary greatly; however, the condition can often be fatal due to its association with other health problems. It was found that more than half of the people diagnosed with CHF die within five years of diagnosis.

The condition requires treatment and will get worse if left untreated, especially when symptoms become dangerous, such as when the lungs begin to fill with fluid. In particular, those who have been diagnosed are six to nine times more likely to experience sudden cardiac arrest, in which the heart stops .

CHF is of particular concern for people with other medical conditions or risk factors. This includes:

  • Age over 65 years
  • Heart attack history
  • Afro-American
  • Obesity or being overweight
  • Diabetes mellitus type 2
  • Congenital heart defects

Heart Failure Doctor Discussion Guide

Get our printable guide to your next doctor's appointment to help you ask the right questions.

How is CHF diagnosed?

Several tests are used to diagnose CHF :

  • Physical evaluation : Your healthcare provider will look at your symptoms, medical history, and any medications and supplements you may be taking. They listen to your heart with a stethoscope, check your blood pressure and other vital signs, and test your blood.
  • Chest X-ray : A chest X-ray allows doctors to see if the heart has enlarged and if blood collects in the lungs.
  • Electrocardiogram (EKG or EKG) : Heart rate, heart rate, and electrical activity are recorded using electrodes placed on the chest to assess the effects of a previous heart attack and detect irregular heartbeats.
  • Echocardiography : This test, colloquially called an "echo," is based on an ultrasound examination of the movement and structure of the heart.
  • Cardiac stress test – Blood pressure, heart rate, and other important metrics are monitored while you walk on the treadmill and after it.
  • MUGA scan : This test, also known as radionuclide ventriculography (RVG), involves injecting a radioactive dye into the bloodstream to examine the heart using nuclear imaging.
  • Cardiac catheterization : With a catheter (a tube that is inserted into the body), a contrast dye is injected into the arteries of the heart and an X-ray is taken to assess whether there is any blockage. The images obtained are called angiograms.
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) : This type of imaging relies on the use of magnetic fields and radio waves to create precise interactive computerized images of the heart.

What you need to know about Swiss francs

Mainly, the damaging effects of congestive heart failure are associated with "stagnation" or improper blood collection due to impaired healthy circulation. Problems get worse over time as the body tries to compensate for them, resulting in:

  • Enlarged heart because the heart muscles work harder and are growing
  • Increased heart rate to compensate for insufficient blood flow.
  • Constricted blood vessels to maintain dangerously low blood pressure
  • Direct blood flow to important parts of the body from the extremities.

These factors, along with the influence of blood pooling in parts of the body, influence the spectrum of CHF symptoms observed.


First of all, CHF is associated with heart health. It occurs due to:

  • Coronary Artery Disease (CHD) : Plaque buildup in the coronary arteries causes them to narrow or block, severely affecting blood flow. In particular, coronary artery disease can lead to angina (chest pain), heart attack, and other problems.
  • Hypertension (high blood pressure) : High blood pressure for a long time can also cause plaque to form and weaken the heart.
  • Type 2 diabetes mellitus : Chronic cases of this condition, in which the body cannot efficiently use sugar (glucose) for energy, can also affect heart function and cardiac output.
  • Arrhythmia : Rapid and irregular heartbeats due to problems with the transmission of electrical signals to the heart can also lead to insufficient blood circulation.
  • Cardiomyopathy – This is a general term for a disease of the heart muscle. In a form of cardiomyopathy, the muscles of the heart become enlarged and stiff.
  • Heart valve disease : Birth defects and certain viruses can cause narrowing and obstruction of the heart valves and can lead to congestive heart failure, such as aortic stenosis and valve failure.
  • Rheumatic heart disease : In rheumatic fever caused by a bacterial infection, the heart is chronically scarred and inflamed.
  • Infection : Certain viruses, including human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), can cause inflammation and blockage of the heart.
  • Radiation damage : Congestive heart failure can also be due to radiation damage to the heart muscle as a result of cancer treatment.
  • Alcohol / drug abuse : Consuming large amounts of alcohol and cocaine can also damage the heart muscle .


Given how serious CHF can be, it is important to understand strategies to prevent this condition. This includes:

  • Live a healthy lifestyle , including regular exercise and a heart-healthy diet.
  • Control excess weight if you are obese or overweight.
  • Treat diabetes by taking the right medications and adapting your lifestyle.
  • Watch your cholesterol levels and do everything you can to keep it healthy.
  • Lower high blood pressure with prescription drugs or make other changes.
  • Stop smoking or using nicotine products.
  • Medicines prescribed by your healthcare professional can help keep your heart healthy.

Watch out

There is no specific cure for CHF, so treatment depends on the underlying conditions that caused it. Therapies for this type of heart disease may include:

  • Lifestyle changes for a healthy heart : Adjusting levels of exercise, diet, and other aspects of health can combat the underlying conditions of congestive heart failure to help manage it.
  • Drug therapy : Medicines that lower blood pressure and relieve heart pressure can help. This includes:
  • ACE inhibitors: Lotenzin (benazepril), Valsotec (enalapril) and others.
  • Beta-blockers: Monocor (bisoprolol), Toprol-XL (metoprolol succinate) and Coreg (carvedilol).
  • Angiotensin receptor blockers: Diovan (valsartan), Avapro (irbesartan), and others.
  • Aldactone (spironolactone)
  • BiDil (isosorbide dinitrate / hydralazine HCl)
  • Entresto (sacubitril / valsartan)
  • Sodium glucose cotransporter-2 inhibitors (SGLT2 inhibitors): Invokana (canagliflozin), Farksiga (dapagliflozin) and Gardians (empagliflozin).
  • Surgery : Treating coronary artery disease, heart attack, or other heart conditions that lead to congestive heart failure can help control this. This can mean anything from coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) surgery to less invasive treatments like angioplasty (placing stents in the arteries to open them).
  • Treatment of other conditions : Managing type 2 diabetes can also critically prevent the development of congestive heart failure.
  • Pacemakers : Because CHF can cause the left and right sides of the heart to go out of sync, a pacemaker can help correct this problem and reduce symptoms.
  • Defibrillator : In cases where the heartbeat is very irregular and rapid, healthcare professionals may need to surgically implant a special electronic device called an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) to control the rhythm and correct it as needed.

Complications of CHF associated with other bodily functions

CHF affects more than just the heart. In fact, some of the most notable symptoms arise from the effect of blood stagnation on other organ systems. This includes:

  • Nausea and poor appetite – The feeling of being sick, vomiting, and lack of hunger associated with congestive heart failure are associated with poor blood supply to the liver and digestive system.
  • Edema : swelling of the extremities occurs when the kidneys, not receiving enough blood, release hormones that retain salt and water.
  • Weight gain : The rapid weight gain associated with CHF is also associated with hormonal imbalances and salt and water retention caused by insufficient blood circulation.
  • Confusion and impaired thinking : Thinking impairment, confusion, and other cognitive effects can occur due to an imbalance in electrolytes and toxins in the bloodstream that occurs when the kidneys are not working optimally .

Get the word of drug information

There is no question that CHF is a term that most would not want to hear from their healthcare provider. Like any disease associated with the heart, this disease has a number of consequences and, especially if left untreated, it can be fatal.

However, there are many treatment strategies available. While it is not an easy road (most of the time significant changes or major treatment is needed to control CHF), it is important to remember that treatment is possible.

As methods, treatments, and technologies continue to evolve, the outlook for people with the condition will only get better.

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