Heart failure means your heart is not in the condition to sufficiently pump your body’s requirement for blood.
Matters not whether you call your condition congestive heart failure,congestive heart failure, cardiac failure, chronic or acute. The outcome is the same, insufficient heart pumping ability that routes you into a life of edema, fatigue and shortness of breath.
As congestive heart failure worsens, your heart grows weaker. This weakness may affect your heart’s right side only or both sides, but most cardiac failures entail pumping reduction on both sides.
The most frequent cardiac failure causes are:
Worth noting here is that diet, weight control and exercise play key roles in the management of all three of these causes. Yet, far too many give little priority to any of these management criteria.
Other factors, diseases or conditions that can lead to, or have a negative affect on, a failing heart include:
- alcohol abuse
- septal defects
- too much vitamin E
- heart valve disorders
- heart muscle diseases
- obstructive sleep apnea
- congenital heart defects
- cocaine/other illegal drug use
- arrhythmias or irregular heartbeats
- cancer treatment ~ radiation/chemotherapy
- thyroid disorders ~ too much or too little thyroid hormone
Symptoms indicating that a heart has weakened in pumping is most noticeable via:
And often the very first sign is an unexplained weight gain due to the edema’s fluid accumulation.
Initially, you may feel tired and short of breath just doing something routinely physical. As your heart gets weaker, feeling tired and out of breath will happen more often, with less exertion. In some cases, to the point that even lying down doesn’t garner any relief.
Fluid buildup from heart failure can also cause:
This cough may be a sign of acute pulmonary edema, often requiring emergency treatment.
If you haven’t gathered this by now, failure of your heart is a very serious condition. And the earlier the diagnosis, the better your chances of leading an active life after treatment.
Treatment for congestive heart failure is tailored to your unique situation, which may involve:
- treating underlining cause
- insertion of mechanical heart pump
- cardiac resynchronization therapy ~ helps both sides with simultaneous contraction
- implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) ~ similar to pacemakers, checks and corrects heart rhythms that are too fast
Finally, a heart transplant is the method of last resort.
Upon your very first sign that your heart may be having pumping difficulties, you can make some very simple adjustments to help yourself. The main lifestyle changes you need to make, and the sooner the better, encompass:
- quit smoking
- manage stress
- get enough rest
- lower blood pressure
- lose weight if necessary
- avoid using illegal drugs
- stay as active as possible
- refrain from drinking alcohol
- eat a diet balanced in nutrients
- check cholesterol and blood sugar levels regularly
Pay special attention to dietary consumption to ensure that it is low in:
- trans fat
- saturated fat
Get active, lose weight and follow a heart healthy diet down your escape route away from congestive heart failure, or any heart disease for that matter!