If you have heart failure, your outlook depends on the cause and the severity, your overall health, and other factors such as your age. Complications can include:

  • Kidney damage or failure. Heart failure can reduce the blood flow to your kidneys, which can eventually cause kidney failure if left untreated. Kidney damage from heart failure can require dialysis for treatment.
  • Heart valve problems. The valves of your heart, which keep blood flowing in the proper direction through your heart, may not function properly if your heart is enlarged, or if the pressure in your heart is very high due to heart failure.
  • Liver damage. Heart failure can lead to a buildup of fluid that puts too much pressure on the liver. This fluid backup can lead to scarring, which makes it more difficult for your liver to function properly.
  • Stroke. Because blood flow through the heart is slower in heart failure than in a normal heart, it's more likely you'll develop blood clots, which can increase your risk of having a stroke.

Some people's symptoms and heart function will improve with proper treatment. However, heart failure can be life-threatening. People with heart failure may have severe symptoms, and some may require heart transplantation or support with an artificial heart device.

Aug. 16, 2013