Basics of Heart Failure

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Heart failure is a condition which occurs when the heart can not pump or fill with enough blood, thus it must work harder to deliver blood to the body. The term ‘heart failure’ is usually misleading since the heart does not completely fail or stop. The symptoms of heart failure can vary from minor to severe or even life-threatening. Even though this is a serious condition, safe and effective treatments are available in order to help you to feel better and live longer.

What Are the Symptoms of Heart Failure?

At first, you might have no symptoms. Eventually, your heart does not pump well and the condition gets worse, it can cause:

  • A racing heartbeat, even while resting
  • Tiredness or weakness, or make you feel lightheaded or dizzy
  • Trouble breathing, which might make you less active or need extra pillows to sleep at night
  • Swelling in your legs, ankles, and feet, or in your belly

Is There a Test for Heart Failure?

Yes. Your health care provider may recommend one or more of the following tests if he/she thinks you are experiencing heart failure:

  • EKG (Electrocardiogram)
  • Echocardiography
  • Stress testing
  • Chest X-ray
  • Blood test
  • Coronary Angiography and Cardiac Catheterization

What Are the Complications of Heart Failure?

If left untreated, heart failure generally is a progressive condition and may cause life-threatening complications. The objective of treatments for heart failure is to reduce symptoms, decrease the chance of developing complications and slow or stop the progression of the underlying process. Some common complications of heart failure include:

  • Irregular heart rhythms (arrhythmias)
  • Kidney disease
  • Liver disease

What Can I Do On My Own to Protect My Heart?

Below here are some useful tips to make you feel better and reduce the chances that you will need to go to the hospital:

  • Take your medicines, even if you feel well
  • Watch for changes in your symptoms and follow an action plan
  • Call your doctor or nurse if you gain weight suddenly
  • Cut down on salt
  • Lose weight, if you are overweight
  • Stop smoking
  • Limit alcohol
  • Be active
  • Check with your doctor before taking any new medicines or supplements

In general, heart failure is very common and even though it is not a curable condition, there are various effective treatments available in order to improve symptoms, improve the quality of life and help people live longer and happier.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

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