Legendary actress Elizabeth Taylor passed away this morning at the age of 79 from congestive heart failure.
Taylor disclosed she had heart failure in 2004, and was hospitalized for it in February 2011. The silver screen star's publicist had said she was in stable condition in mid-March.
The condition is a situation where the heart cannot appropriately pump enough blood to the body's organs, according to the American Heart Association. It can be caused by any number of things.
Below are a few potential causes, from the American Heart Association:
- narrowed arteries that supply blood to the heart muscle -- coronary artery disease
- past heart attack, or myocardial infarction, with scar tissue that interferes with the heart muscle's normal work
- high blood pressure
- heart valve disease due to past rheumatic fever or other causes
- primary disease of the heart muscle itself, called cardiomyopathy.
- heart defects present at birth -- congenital heart defects.
- infection of the heart valves and/or heart muscle itself -- endocarditis and/or myocarditis
A diagnosis of heart failure requires close monitoring, according to the National Institutes of Health. Treatment includes losing weight, quitting smoking, and limiting salt intake.
The symptoms are relatively generic, and include shortness of breath, nausea, and sleep loss. However, some people may show no sign of the condition before being diagnosed or faced with a difficult situation.