The heart is about the size of a closed fist. It has four chambers. The upper chambers are the right atrium and left atrium. The more powerful lower chambers are called the right ventricle and left ventricle. When the heart is healthy, it easily pumps oxygen-rich blood to your entire body. When heart failure occurs, the heart's ability to pump is limited.
Heart failure is a condition in which the heart's ability to pump blood is weaker than normal, resulting in inadequate circulation of blood around the body. Eventually, heart failure leads to the failure of other vital organs due to this inadequate blood flow. Heart failure affects 5 million Americans, and there are more than 550,000 new cases each year.
As a result of heart failure, you may feel tired and have:
- Difficulty breathing while lying flat, with activity or at rest
- Swelling of the feet and legs
- Lack of appetite
- Decreased energy in doing normal activities.
Heart failure is often treated with medicines, diet and lifestyle changes. In some cases, a biventricular pacemaker is needed. This special pacemaker stimulates the right and left ventricles to help them contract in sync and pump more effectively.
The use of this type of pacemaker is often called cardiac resynchronization therapy (CRT).
As needed, a biventricular pacemaker/defibrillator also can "shock" or defibrillate the heart. This helps control life-threatening heart rhythm problems, sometimes seen in HF patients.