Skip directly to search Skip directly to A to Z list Skip directly to navigation Skip directly to page options Skip directly to site content

Heart Failure Fact Sheet

Download this fact sheet [PDF–464K]

Image shows a healthy heart where the aorta is pumping blood into the heart muscle, and in contrast, a heart with heart failure where the weakened heart muscle cannot pump enough blood into the aorta. Blood pools in the heart, resulting in heart failure.

Heart failure happens when the heart cannot pump enough blood and oxygen to support other organs in your body. Heart failure is a serious condition, but it does not mean that the heart has stopped beating.

Heart Failure in the United States

  • About 5.1 million people in the United States have heart failure.1
  • One in 9 deaths in 2009 included heart failure as contributing cause.1
  • About half of people who develop heart failure die within 5 years of diagnosis.1
  • Heart failure costs the nation an estimated $32 billion each year.3 This total includes the cost of health care services, medications to treat heart failure, and missed days of work.

Deaths from Heart Failure Vary by Geography

Heart failure is more common in some areas of the United States than in others. Below is a map showing the rate of death from heart failure by county during 2007–2009.

Risk Factors for Heart Failure

Diseases that damage your heart also increase your risk for heart failure. Some of these diseases include

Unhealthy behaviors can also increase your risk for heart failure, especially for people who have one of the diseases listed above. Unhealthy behaviors include

  • Smoking tobacco.
  • Eating foods high in fat, cholesterol, and sodium.
  • Not getting enough physical activity.
  • Being obese.

Signs and Symptoms of Heart Failure

Woman holding her head in her hand.

Common symptoms of heart failure include:

  • Shortness of breath during daily activities.
  • Having trouble breathing when lying down.
  • Weight gain with swelling in the feet, legs, ankles, or stomach.
  • Generally feeling tired or weak.

Treating Heart Failure

Early diagnosis and treatment can improve quality and length of life for people who have heart failure. Treatment usually involves taking medications, reducing sodium in the diet, and getting daily physical activity. People with heart failure also track their symptoms each day so that they can discuss these symptoms with their health care team.

CDC's Public Health Efforts Related to Heart Failure

State Public Health Actions to Prevent and Control Chronic Diseases

CDC-funded programs in state health departments promote changes to policies and systems in health care, work site, school, and community settings to prevent and control chronic diseases. Programs in all 50 states work to identify and monitor chronic diseases and to put into action basic strategies to improve health, such as promoting physical activity in schools and work sites. CDC funds enhanced efforts in 32 states—such as improving access to healthy food—to build on the basic activities funded across all states.

Million Hearts®

Million Hearts® is a national, public-private initiative of the Department of Health and Human Services to prevent 1 million heart attacks and strokes by 2017. Co-led by CDC and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, the initiative brings together communities, health care professionals, health systems, nonprofit organizations, federal agencies, and private-sector partners to improve care and empower Americans to make heart-healthy choices.

Web Sites with More Information About Heart Failure

For more information about heart failure, visit the following Web sites:


  1. Go AS, Mozaffarian D, Roger VL, Benjamin EJ, Berry JD, et al. Heart disease and stroke statistics—2013 update: a report from the American Heart Association. Circulation. 2013;127:e6–e245.
  2. Kochanek KD, Xu JQ, Murphy SL, Miniño AM, Kung HC. Deaths: final data for 2009 [PDF-3M]. Natl Vital Stat Rep. 2011;60(3).
  3. Heidenreich PA, Trogdon JG, Khavjou OA, Butler J, Dracup K, Ezekowitz MD, et al. Forecasting the future of cardiovascular disease in the United States: a policy statement from the American Heart Association. Circulation. 2011;123(8):933–44.