Most of us can recall the emotions of a failed romance, when we felt our heart was bruised if not broken. Luckily, fewer people know what it's like to have a heart that's truly damaged.
In the medical condition known as heart failure, or congestive heart failure, the heart is unable to beat as strongly as the body requires. Eventually, people with heart failure are unable to walk or breathe normally. This condition results from the organ's unsuccessful attempt to cope with inherited malformations or from damage caused by infections or severe heart attacks. In response to such problems, the heart's walls thin and weaken, while the entire organ enlarges until it can no longer contract effectively.
About 4.6 million people in the United States live with congestive heart failure. Most men live about 1.7 years after receiving that diagnosis, and women live an average of 3.2 years afterwards.
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