JOHN BAVOSI / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY JOHN BAVOSI / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Heart failure. Cutaway illustration of a human heart and an ECG (electrocardiogram) trace in left ventricular heart failure. The trace shows cardiac arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat), a major cause of heart failure. Heart failure occurs when the heart fails to empty itself completely with each contraction. In left ventricular failure the left ventricle (right) is responsible. As a result its muscular wall becomes abnormally enlarged and a backflow of pressure occurs against the pulmonary vein, causing the lungs to become congested with blood. Symptoms include pulmonary oedema, shortness of breath and fatigue. Short-term treatment includes bed-rest and diuretic drugs.
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