Congestive heart failure occurs when the heart fails to pump blood as efficiently as it should. Certain conditions render the heart too stiff or weak to work to full capacity, such as high blood pressure or narrowed or clogged arteries. These conditions cause a range of symptoms.
Congestive heart failure does not always produce initial symptoms, which can make it difficult to notice and diagnose promptly. For a time after problems develop, the heart and body can compensate for the shortcomings. The heart may start pumping faster and pumping more blood each time it beats. Over time, this excess effort makes the heart weaker and it becomes less able to move the blood. This is when the signs and symptoms of congestive heart failure begin to appear.
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