10/04/2012 12:09 pm ET Updated Oct 05, 2012

Sahara Davenport: 'RuPaul's Drag Race' Star Dies Of Heart Failure

"RuPaul's Drag Race" star Antoine Ashley, who is known on the show as Sahara Davenport, died of heart failure at age 27, People magazine reported.

"To me he will always be my best friend, my hero, my diva and I have always considered myself more than lucky to have him be forever a part of my life. Thank you, hon, for bringing so much beauty to all of us. Your legacy lives on in me and all of us you've touched," Ashley's boyfriend, Karl Westerberg -- known as Manila Luzon on the show -- said in a statement obtained by People.

Heart failure affects nearly 6 million people in the United States, and can occur in people of any age. It is a condition where the heart's pumping ability is unable to keep up with the needs of the body, according to the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute:

In some cases, the heart can't fill with enough blood. In other cases, the heart can't pump blood to the rest of the body with enough force. Some people have both problems.

Heart failure can occur on one or both sides of the heart. If heart failure occurs on the left side of the heart -- called left-sided heart failure -- then that means the heart is unable to pump enough blood to other parts of the body, according to the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute. The Mayo Clinic reported that this form of heart failure is the most common, and can lead to fluid accumulating in the lungs.

Right-sided heart failure, on the other hand, occurs when the heart is unable to pump adequate blood to the lungs. This form of heart failure can occur along left-sided heart failure, and can lead to fluid accumulation in other parts of the body, like the abdomen, feet, ankles, legs and internal organs like the liver, the Mayo Clinic reported.

Systolic heart failure is another form of heart failure, where the left ventricle of the heart can't contract correctly; diastolic heart failure, another form, occurs when the left ventricle can't fill correctly, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Heart failure usually manifests with a number of symptoms, including shortness of breath, fluid build-up in the form of swelling, coughing, feeling tired, heart palpitations, nausea and memory/thinking problems, the American Heart Association noted.

The biggest causes of heart failure are high blood pressure, heart attack and coronary artery disease, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Other known risk factors include having a family history of heart disease, being a man, being African American, having diabetes or being obese, smoking, drinking, leading a sedentary lifestyle and using certain medications that could increase the risk of the condition.