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Prepare through prevention: learn about heart failure

Despite how the term sounds, heart failure does not mean the heart has stopped working altogether.

“Heart failure, sometimes called congestive heart failure, or CHF, is when the heart muscle is damaged and can no longer pump blood through the body as well as it should,” said Divya Gumber, M.D., a Riverside Health System cardiologist with subspecialty training in treating heart failure.

Since the heart is unable to keep up with the body’s demands, it tries to make up for it by beating faster and stretching to pump more blood with each beat. The body tries to make up for the decreased supply of oxygen-rich blood by maintaining a higher blood pressure as well as reducing blood supply to less-essential areas, such as toes or the kidneys, to keep the heart and brain receiving enough blood.

To reduce your risk of developing heart failure, it is important to focus on developing a heart-healthy lifestyle. This can include:

—Not smoking;

—Maintaining a healthy weight by eating r...

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