Acute Decompensated Heart Failure (ADHF)

Acute Decompensated Heart Failure (ADHF): Causes, Symptoms and Signs

Acute Decompensated Heart Failure (ADHF) is a medical condition which is caused due to underlying heart problems. It is a period of rapid worsening of symptoms and signs of a person’s heart failure. It occurs suddenly and may have serious consequences if left untreated. ADHF is the leading cause of emergency department visits and hospitalizations due to heart failure in the United States.


ADHF appears to be developed from the underlying mechanism of structural heart disease. The four primary sources of underlying heart disease include reduced left ventricular ejection fraction, coronary artery disease, hypertension, and valvular heart diseases. Additionally, risk factors such as age, diabetes, anaemia, alcohol, smoking, drug abuse, renal failure and obesity may also contribute to the development of ADHF.

Symptoms and Signs

The symptoms and signs of Acute Decompensated Heart Failure may vary from person to person. Generally, the common signs and symptoms of ADHF include:

  • shortness of breath (dyspnea), especially during activity
  • tiredness and fatigue
  • cough, with or without mucus
  • swelling of abdomen, legs, feet, ankles, or legs
  • rapid weight gain
  • increased heart rate
  • decreased urine output or dark urine.

The most serious symptoms include loss of consciousness or abnormal heart rhythms.


The treatment of Acute Decompensated Heart Failure typically includes lifestyle changes, medications, and possibly medical devices. The primary goal of the treatment is to reduce the symptoms, improve the patient's quality of life, and reduce the risk of death. Lifestyle changes can include reducing salt and fluid intake, reducing alcohol and nicotine intake, increasing physical activity, and reducing stress. Medications such as diuretics, angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors (ACE inhibitors), and beta blockers may also be used. Additionally, medical devices such as implantable cardioverter-defibrillators (ICDs), biventricular pacemakers, and cardiac resynchronization therapy (CRT) may also be used.


Acute Decompensated Heart Failure is a serious medical condition which requires immediate attention and treatment. It occurs suddenly and can cause severe symptoms, which can be life-threatening if left untreated. The treatment of this condition typically includes lifestyle changes, medications, and medical devices, which can reduce symptoms and help improve the patient's quality of life.