What is congestive heart failure?

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Randy Travis suffered a stroke and underwent surgery to relieve pressure on his brain Wednesday evening, his publicist said.

"Mr. Randy Travis is out of surgery and in critical condition," the hospital website announced Wednesday night.

The stroke is "a complication of his congestive heart failure" for which he is being treated at The Heart Hospital at Baylor Plano in Texas, Kirt Webster said.

Around 5.8 million people in the United States have heart failure, and approximately 670,000 people are diagnosed with it each year.

Congestive heart failure is a condition in which the heart can no longer pump enough blood to the rest of the body which is often due to failure of the heart pumping function or stiffening of the heart muscle.

Common symptoms of congestive heart failure include shortness of breath with exertion or after you lie down, difficulty lying flat (feeling of being smothered), coughing and/or wheezing, fatigue and swollen feet or ankles.

The most common cause of congestive heart failure is coronary artery disease.  Heart disease of the valve and/or poorly controlled high blood pressure are also common causes of congestive heart failure.

Therefore, prevention methods of heart failure are similar to preventing heart disease in general, such as controlling weight, blood pressure, and cholesterol, exercising, proper diet and avoiding tobacco use.

Congestive heart failure increases risk of arrhythmia (abnormal heart rhythms), as well as sudden cardiac death; therefore it is important to seek medical attention if experiencing symptoms of congestive heart failure.

Heart failure can be diagnosed through the use of physical exams and echocardiograms, which is an ultrasound of the heart that can reveal weakness in the heart muscle.

The first line of treating a heart failure patient is to treat the underlying problem, such as repairing the heart valve or opening the artery. Heart failure can also be treated through the use of medications formulated to help strengthen the heart muscle.

The exceptional team of cardiologists and related healthcare providers throughout the Cone Health Network are dedicated to educating the community on heart disease and providing excellent treatment to patients dealing with conditions such as congestive heart failure.

Spokesperson Background:

Dr. Dalton McLean is a cardiologist and a member of the Cone Health Medical Staff.  Dr. McLean is a 2003 graduate of University of North Carolina Chapel Hill School of Medicine.  He completed a residency in Internal Medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and completed a fellowship in cardiology at Emory University School of Medicine.