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Congestive Heart Failure
July 23, 2019
What is Congestive Heart Failure?
Heart failure, sometimes known as congestive heart failure, occurs when your heart muscle doesn’t pump blood as well as it should. Certain conditions, such as narrowed arteries in your heart (coronary artery disease) or high blood pressure, gradually leave your heart too weak or stiff to fill and pump efficiently.
Not all conditions that lead to heart failure can be reversed, but treatments can improve the signs and symptoms of heart failure and help you live longer. Lifestyle changes — such as exercising, reducing sodium in your diet, managing stress and losing weight — can improve your quality of life.
Types of CHF
Left-sided CHF is the most common type of CHF. It occurs when your left ventricle doesn’t properly pump blood out to your body. As the condition progresses, fluid can build up in your lungs, which makes breathing difficult.
There are two kinds of left-sided heart failure:
Systolic heart failure occurs when the left ventricle fails to contract normally. This reduces the level of force available to push blood into circulation. Without this force, the heart can’t pump properly.
Diastolic failure, or diastolic dysfunction, happens when the muscle in the left ventricle becomes stiff. Because it can no longer relax, the heart can’t quite fill with blood between beats.
Right-sided CHF occurs when the right ventricle has difficulty pumping blood to your lungs. Blood backs up in your blood vessels, which causes fluid retention in your lower extremities, abdomen, and other vital organs.
Heart failure can be ongoing (chronic), or your condition may start suddenly (acute).
Heart failure signs and symptoms may include:
– Shortness of breath (dyspnea) when you exert yourself or when you lie down
– Fatigue and weakness
– Swelling (edema) in your legs, ankles and feet
– Rapid or irregular heartbeat
– Reduced ability to exercise
– Persistent cough or wheezing with white or pink blood-tinged phlegm
– Increased need to urinate at night
– Swelling of your abdomen (ascites)
– Very rapid weight gain from fluid retention
– Lack of appetite and nausea
– Difficulty concentrating or decreased alertness
– Sudden, severe shortness of breath and coughing up pink, foamy mucus
– Chest pain if your heart failure is caused by a heart attack
Causes and Risk Factors
CHF may result from other health conditions that directly affect your cardiovascular system. This is why it’s important to get annual checkups to lower your risk for heart health problems, including high blood pressure (hypertension), coronary artery disease, and valve conditions.
When your blood pressure is higher than normal, it may lead to CHF. Hypertension has many different causes. Among them is the narrowing of your arteries, which makes it harder for your blood to flow through them.
Coronary artery disease
Cholesterol and other types of fatty substances can block the coronary arteries, which are the small arteries that supply blood to the heart. This causes the arteries to become narrow. Narrower coronary arteries restrict your blood flow and can lead to damage in your arteries.
Your heart valves regulate blood flow through your heart by opening and closing to let blood in and out of the chambers. Valves that don’t open and close correctly may force your ventricles to work harder to pump blood. This can be a result of a heart infection or defect.
While heart-related diseases can lead to CHF, there are other seemingly unrelated conditions that may increase your risk, too. These include diabetes, thyroid disease, and obesity. Severe infections and allergic reactions may also contribute to CHF.our heart failure is caused by a heart attack
The key to preventing heart failure is to reduce your risk factors. You can control or eliminate many of the risk factors for heart disease — high blood pressure and coronary artery disease, for example — by making lifestyle changes along with the help of any needed medications.
Lifestyle changes you can make to help prevent heart failure include:
– Not smoking
– Controlling certain conditions, such as high blood pressure and diabetes
– Staying physically active
– Eating healthy foods
– Maintaining a healthy weight
– Reducing and managing stress
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