Congestive Heart Failure
Occurs when the heart is not as strong as it should be and blood ends up pooling in the heart, therefore congesting it.
What is Congestive Heart Failure?
Congestive heart failure or, more commonly, Heart Failure, occurs when your heart is not as strong as it should be. There are two main types of heart failure, Systolic and Diastolic. Systolic HF occurs when the heart does not pump blood hard enough, and Diastolic HF occurs when the heart does not fill up with enough blood.
Under both conditions, blood ends up pooling in the heart and congesting it. This is why Heart Failure is oftentimes called Congestive Heart Failure.
Millions of people have this condition because there are so many diseases that can cause the heart to not work well, and because of this, Heart Failure is usually diagnosed in degrees of severity as well. For example, certain conditions, such as narrowed arteries in your heart (coronary artery disease) or high blood pressure, may leave your heart too weakened or its ventricles too stiff to fill and pump efficiently.
Not all conditions that lead to heart failure can be reversed, but making the right decisions can help by alleviating symptoms. Among these are simple lifestyle changes such as losing weight, proper exercise, lowering sodium intake, and making healthier food choices are all simple but effective choices that help you live longer. This is because one way to prevent heart failure is to prevent and control co-morbid conditions that lead to heart failure like coronary artery disease, high blood pressure, diabetes or obesity.
Symptoms of Congestive Heart Failure
There are many symptoms of heart failure, so it’s important to keep an eye on yourself and make sure that you do not experience several of these. Having several of these symptoms strongly suggests you have heart failure, and they can start either randomly or be chronic.
Heart failure signs and symptoms may include:
- Shortness of breath, or dyspnea
- Fatigue, weakness, light headedness
- Water build up in your extremities (edema)
- Rapid or irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia)
- Feeling slow and lethargic while exercising
- Chronic cough or wheezing
- Increased need to urinate at night
- Swelling of the abdomen (ascites)
- Very rapid weight gain from fluid retention
- Lack of appetite, nausea
- Confusion, difficulty concentrating, decreased alertness
- Chest pain
Risk Factors of Congestive Heart Failure
A person’s risk of developing heart failure increases as they age. However, taking the proper medication and making correct lifestyle choices can help you live a longer life.
Most people who have had the following conditions are at a higher risk of having Congenital Heart Failure, as these conditions can damage your heart over time. Some of these conditions can be present without symptoms, so it’s important you see your doctor to maintain your health.
Coronary artery disease
Coronary artery disease is the most common cause of heart failure. The disease results from the buildup of plaque and bad cholesterol in your coronary arteries, which surround the heart. This directly reduces blood flow to and in the heart, and can lead to heart attack stroke.
High blood pressure (hypertension)
If your blood pressure is constantly too high, your heart has to work harder than it should to circulate blood throughout your body. This also causes strain to be placed directly on the walls of the heart. Forcing the heart to compensate for this will lead too the stiffening or weakening of it over time.
Heart muscle damage (cardiomyopathy) can come from many things. Things that can damage the heart include drugs for chemotherapy, diseases or infections, prolonged alcohol abuse and the toxic effect of illegal drugs, such as cocaine or heroin.
Myocarditis is an inflammation of the heart muscle. It’s most commonly caused by a virus.
Congenital Heart Defects
Sometimes babies are born with compromised hearts. If some parts of your heart and its chambers or valves didn’t form correctly, then the healthy parts of your heart have to work harder to compensate, which, in turn, may lead to heart failure.
Other chronic diseases
Chronic diseases — such as diabetes, HIV, hyperthyroidism, hypothyroidism, hemochromatosis, or amyloidosis — also may contribute to heart failure.
Prevention of Congestive Heart Failure
The key to preventing heart failure is be on top of any risk factors you might have. However, diseases get worse over time and not much can be done about that. That’s why making the appropriate lifestyle changes and the additional medications prescribed are important. The medication promotes overall cardiovascular health and significantly reduces your exposure to heart failure and several other defects.
Lifestyle changes you can making today to lead you on the right path in preventing heart failure includes:
- Cessation of tobacco use/smoking
- Controlling preexisting conditions
- Making good food choices and picking healthy alternatives
- Getting exercise, such as walking or taking the stairs
- Reducing and managing stress
- Maintaining height-age appropriate body weight
Properly managing heart failure is crucial in preventing other diseases from ravaging your life. It is imperative you adhere to your doctors advice and stay ontop of the condition.