HF, often referred to as congestive heart failure (CHF), is the inability of the heart to pump sufficient blood to meet the needs of the tissues for oxygen and nutrients. However, the term CHF is misleading, because it indicates that patients must experience pulmonary or peripheral congestion to have HF, and it implies that patients with congestion have HF. The Agency for Health Care Policy and Research (AHCPR) HF guidelines panel (1994) defined HF as a clinical syndrome characterized by signs and symptoms of fluid overload or of inadequate tissue perfusion. These signs and symptoms result when the heart is unable to gen-erate a CO sufficient to meet the body’s demands. The HF guide-line panel used the term heart failure because many patients with HF do not manifest pulmonary or systemic congestion. The term HF is preferred and indicates myocardial heart disease in which there is a problem with contraction of the heart (systolic dysfunction) or filling of the heart (diastolic dysfunction) and which may or may not cause pulmonary or systemic congestion. Some cases of HF are reversible, depending on the cause. Most often, HF is a life-long diagnosis that is managed with lifestyle changes and medications to prevent acute congestive episodes. CHF is usually an acute presentation of HF.
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