Congestive Cardiac Failure (‘CCF’ or ‘Heart Failure’)

The term, Congestive Cardiac Failure  (CCF),  is medical jargon, used to describe a group of symptoms and problems caused by a weakened heart muscle, which is unable to contract (squeeze) or relax as well as it needs to in order to do its job, which is to keep blood circulating around the body with enough output to adequately supply the ongoing need for delivery of oxygen and nutrients. The term ‘failure’ in this instance, means ‘decreased function’ and not ‘complete failure’. Doctors also call this condition ‘heart failure’.

The symptoms of CCF include, new or worsening shortness of breath (particularly during physical activity, or after lying flat, or waking you up at night), weight gain, swelling of ankles or legs, swelling of abdomen, unexplained coughing and wheezing, loss of appetite muscular fatigue, tiredness, chest pain or discomfort in parts of the upper body, heart palpitations, dizziness, constipation.

The most common cause of CCF is ischaemic heart disease. Other common causes include hypertension, heart valve disease and cardiomyopathy.

Tests needed to assess CCF include x rays, echocardiography, ECG, coronary angiography and others.

Treatment for CCF includes treatment of the underlying cause of CCF, as well as the symptoms. This can include any of the treatments in this list:

  • medicines
  • addressing the underlying cause of CCF
  • lifestyle changes
  • surgery – stenting, bypass surgery or valve surgery to replace or repair narrowed or leaking heart valves
  • Implantation of pacemakers or ICDs
  • heart transplantation in some cases.