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What is Heart Failure?


An estimated 23 million people around the world have heart failure,1 and more than 670,000 people are diagnosed with heart failure every year.2 Heart failure is a progressive condition, which means that it can worsen over time, even while taking recommended medicine. About 10% of people with heart failure have an advanced condition.1 These patients can have symptoms, such as shortness of breath, even while resting.

1. McMurray, J, et al. Clinical epidemiology of heart failure: public and private health burden. Eur Heart J 1998 Suppl P:P9-16.
2. HeartWare 2013 Form 10K

About Heart Failure

If you have been diagnosed with heart failure, it does not mean your heart has stopped working; it means your heart is weak and as a result, cannot supply enough oxygen and nutrient-rich blood to your body’s cells. Common symptoms of heart failure include fatigue and shortness of breath. Everyday activities like walking, climbing stairs, or carrying groceries can become very difficult.

Knowing how a normal healthy heart functions, will help in understanding heart failure.

The right atrium (1) takes in oxygen-depleted blood from the rest of the body and sends it back out to the lungs through the right ventricle (2). Oxygen-rich blood travels from the lungs to the left atrium (3), and then onto the left ventricle (4), which pumps it to the rest of the body.

In order for the heart to function properly, its four chambers must work together to pump blood to the lungs and to all of the body’s cells. Heart failure is generally a chronic, progressive condition in which the heart weakens to the point in which it can no longer pump enough blood to meet the body’s needs.

The heart has four chambers:

  • Two upper chambers — a right atrium and a left atrium
  • Two lower chambers — a right ventricle and a left ventricle

Living with Heart Failure

Heart failure can severely limit a person’s activity. That’s because the body is not getting enough oxygen-rich blood and nutrients. Decreased mobility is also common due to fluid buildup in the lungs or legs.

Advanced Heart Failure and the HVAD® System: See Mike's Journey