Congestive Heart Failure Make an Appointment Find a Doctor Ask a Question Reviewed by Andrew M. Freeman, MD, FACC, FACP (December 01, 2012) Congestive heart failure (systolic) is a clinical syndrome which refers to a condition when the heart cannot fill with enough blood or has trouble sending blood throughout the body. When the right side of the heart is affected, the heart has trouble pumping blood to the lungs to receive oxygen. When the left-side of the heart is affected, the heart struggles to deliver blood to the rest of the body. This blood contains the oxygen and vital nutrients all organs in the body depend on to live and work optimally. Congestive heart failure is most prominent in people who are 65 or older. Being overweight or obese also increases the risk of congestive heart failure since extra weight forces the heart to work harder. African Americans are also at a greater risk, often developing the disease sooner and suffering from more severe forms of heart failure. Congestive heart failure can also affect those with a stiff heart even with normal pumping function. This is called diastolic dysfunction or diastolic heart failure. Programs & Services Cardiology Programs Clinical Trials For more than 100 years, National Jewish Health has been committed to finding new treatments and cures for diseases. Search our clinical trials.