A person with heart failure

Heart failure occurs when the heart muscle doesn't pump blood as well as it should. Blood often backs up and causes fluid to build up in the lungs (congest) and in the legs. The fluid buildup can cause shortness of breath and swelling of the legs and feet. Poor blood flow may cause the skin to appear blue (cyanotic). Some types of heart failure can lead to an enlarged heart.

From Mayo Clinic to your inbox

Sign up for free, and stay up to date on research advancements, health tips and current health topics, like COVID-19, plus expertise on managing health.

To provide you with the most relevant and helpful information, and understand which information is beneficial, we may combine your email and website usage information with other information we have about you. If you are a Mayo Clinic patient, this could include protected health information. If we combine this information with your protected health information, we will treat all of that information as protected health information and will only use or disclose that information as set forth in our notice of privacy practices. You may opt-out of email communications at any time by clicking on the unsubscribe link in the e-mail.