“Unforgettable” Natalie Cole Dies of Heart Failure

Singer Natalie Cole has died at the age of 65. The cause was congestive heart failure. A family statement said:

“It is with heavy hearts that we bring to you all the news of our Mother and sister’s passing. Natalie fought a fierce, courageous battle, dying how she lived … with dignity, strength and honor.”

The daughter of legendary singer Nat King Cole became a superstar in her own right, with hits such as “This Will Be,”  “Our Love,” and, of course, the duet with her late father “Unforgettable.”

Cole battled health issues for many years, many as a result of years of intravenous drug abuse. Through that use she contracted Hepatitis C, which severely damaged her kidneys and required a kidney transplant in 2009.

What Is Heart Failure?

Source: NHLBI

Heart failure is a condition in which the heart can’t pump enough blood to meet the body’s needs. 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.

The term “heart failure” doesn’t mean that your heart has stopped or is about to stop working. However, heart failure is a serious condition that requires medical care.


Heart failure develops over time as the heart’s pumping action grows weaker. The condition can affect the right side of the heart only, or it can affect both sides of the heart. Most cases involve both sides of the heart.

Right-side heart failure occurs if the heart can’t pump enough blood to the lungs to pick up oxygen. Left-side heart failure occurs if the heart can’t pump enough oxygen-rich blood to the rest of the body.

Right-side heart failure may cause fluid to build up in the feet, ankles, legs, liver, abdomen, and the veins in the neck. Right-side and left-side heart failure also may cause shortness of breath and fatigue (tiredness).

The leading causes of heart failure are diseases that damage the heart. Examples include coronary heart disease (CHD), high blood pressure, and diabetes.

Heart failure is a very common condition. About 5.7 million people in the United States have heart failure. Both children and adults can have the condition, although the symptoms and treatments differ.

What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Heart Failure?

The most common signs and symptoms of heart failure are:

The image shows the major signs and symptoms of heart failure.
  • Shortness of breath or trouble breathing
  • Fatigue (tiredness)
  • Swelling in the ankles, feet, legs, abdomen, and veins in the neck

All of these symptoms are the result of fluid buildup in your body. When symptoms start, you may feel tired and short of breath after routine physical effort, like climbing stairs.

As your heart grows weaker, symptoms get worse. You may begin to feel tired and short of breath after getting dressed or walking across the room. Some people have shortness of breath while lying flat.

Fluid buildup from heart failure also causes weight gain, frequent urination, and a cough that’s worse at night and when you’re lying down. This cough may be a sign of acute pulmonary edema. This is a condition in which too much fluid builds up in your lungs. The condition requires emergency treatment.

How Is Heart Failure Treated?

Early diagnosis and treatment can help people who have heart failure live longer, more active lives. Treatment for heart failure depends on the type and severity of the heart failure.

The goals of treatment for all stages of heart failure include:

  • Treating the condition’s underlying cause, such as coronary heart diseasehigh blood pressure, or diabetes
  • Reducing symptoms
  • Stopping the heart failure from getting worse
  • Increasing your lifespan and improving your quality of life

Treatments usually include lifestyle changes, medicines, and ongoing care. If you have severe heart failure, you also may need medical procedures or surgery.

Michele R. Berman, M.D. was Clinical Director of The Pediatric Center, a private practice on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. from 1988-2000, and was named Outstanding Washington Physician by Washingtonian Magazine in 1999. She was a medical internet pioneer having established one of the first medical practice websites in 1997. Dr. Berman also authored a monthly column for Washington Parent Magazine.

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