The job of the heart is to pump blood and oxygen to all of the cells in the body. If the heart cannot pump vigorously enough to accomplish this, it is called heart failure. If blood is not being pumped well, but instead congesting in abnormal places, the clinical signs of edema and jugular venous distension are seen. The patient often feels tired and short of breath. There are many causes of heart failure and the treatment depends of the underlying cause. For example, some people have systolic heart failure where their heart is not able to pump strongly. Fewer people have a different type of heart failure called diastolic failure because their hearts cannot relax and allow blood to return.
Treatment for ventricular fibrillation attempts to control the heart rate and to reset the heart to a more normal rhythm. An implanted defibrillator detects ventricular fibrillation and resets or shocks the heart into a normal rhythm.
With an implanted defibrillator, people with irregular heart beat continue their lives with some lifestyle adjustments.
The effects of heart failure can be minimized by controlling the risk factors for heart disease. Obvious steps include quitting smoking, losing weight if necessary, abstaining from alcohol, and making dietary changes to reduce the amount of salt and fat consumed. Regular, modest exercise is also helpful for many patients, though the amount and intensity should be carefully monitored by a physician.