Elizabeth Taylor
Elizabeth Taylor Reuters

Legendary actress Elizabeth Taylor died Wednesday at the age of 79 in Los Angeles. Her death was caused by a condition called congestive heart failure.

According to the American Heart Association website, congestive heart failure is a condition where the heart cannot pump enough blood to the body's other organs.

This is a result of narrowed arteries that supply blood to the heart muscle, a past heart attack, high blood pressure, heart valve disease and a number of other causes.

What happens with this condition is that the heart keeps working but not as efficiently as it should. Someone with congestive heart failure gets tired easily and becomes short of breath. Often times, body parts, mainly legs and ankles swell up, but it can happen to other parts of the body as well.

Heart failure usually tends to present itself in older people, affecting 1 percent of people aged 50, 5 percent of those aged 75 or older and 35 percent of those aged 85 years or older.

Congestive heart failure is usually treated with rest, diet and medications such as ACE inhibitors, beta blockers and diuretics. In cases of extreme heart damage, a person may require a heart transplant.