Heart failure is the most common complication of heart disease. Fortunately, there are treatments to manage this heart problem. But it is best to get familiar first with heart failure warning signs and symptoms.
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Despite the name of the condition, heart failure is not about your heart literally stopping from beating. Instead, it is about how the heart muscle is unable to supply oxygenated blood that is essential for the body to function well.
When you suffer from heart failure, your heart still pumps blood to all organs and cells in the body. However, it is not performing at its optimal level.
Heart failure occurs when the heart muscles become weak and stiff as a result of another underlying condition.
Heart failure is a common complication of numerous severe conditions, such as several cardiovascular problems, respiratory diseases, and blood disorders.
Here are some chronic illnesses that might cause heart failure:
The symptoms and signs of heart failure may vary from person to person since we all have different bodies and weight. Here are the heart failure warning signs and symptoms you must watch out for:
Shortness of breath while engaging in physical activities is the most common symptom of heart failure. Breathlessness may still occur even though your body is at rest. In addition, you need to lay down with an additional pillow behind your head since lying flat will obstruct your breathing.
Your muscles may not be getting enough oxygen and blood from your heart since it is not efficient in pumping blood to all parts of the body. You may feel extremely tired while doing your regular routine since your muscles lack blood and oxygen.
The sympathetic nervous system tries to make up for the lack of oxygen and blood received by the brain and other parts of the body. Catecholamines are released into the bloodstream, which narrows the blood vessels and increases heart rate. The arteries simultaneously widen to carry the increased supply of blood flow to the brain and other vital parts of the body.
When your heart slows down in pumping blood, the blood flow backs up into the veins, causing fluid to build in your tissues. The fluid retention causes your body parts (ankles, legs, feet, and abdomen) to swell and add additional weight to your body.
Your digestive system does not receive enough blood, which results in digestive problems. This makes you feel full or sick.
Heart failure causes fluid to build up in your lungs and airways. White or pink blood-tinged mucus may be present when coughing.
Since blood flow is inadequate, the brain will not be getting the oxygenated blood it needs to function properly. Decreased blood flow to the brain can cause cognitive problems such as confusion and memory loss.
If you experience any of these heart failure warning signs and symptoms, call your doctor immediately or head to the hospital.
Heart failure is a lifelong condition since it does damage your heart over time. However, there are still ways to manage it and prevent it from getting worse.
Here are some tips for heart failure management and prevention:
Consuming foods that are low in sodium and saturated fat helps prevent heart failure from worsening. Healthy foods such as fruits, vegetables, and lean protein help your blood pressure from rising.
Smoking is not good for your health, especially if you already suffer from heart failure. It is recommended that you quit smoking as soon as possible. Smoking contributes to the worsening of severe diseases.
Check whether some parts of your body are swelling excessively or not. The swelling on your body will determine whether your condition has worsened. If this happens, inform your doctor.
Stress can trigger diseases that can negatively affect your heart. If you are stressed, your blood sugar, blood pressure, cholesterol, and triglyceride levels increase, worsening heart failure. As much as possible, do not put more stress on your heart.
If you suffer from heart failure, your doctor will most likely advise you to limit or completely avoid consuming alcohol. Drinking alcoholic beverages add more pressure to your heart as it can interact with your medications. It can also raise your heart rate and blood pressure.
Excessive sodium intake can further increase high blood pressure. Immoderate consumption of sodium can also worsen water retention, thus making swelling worse.
Including too much saturated and trans fat in your diet will put you at greater risk of contracting a more serious cardiovascular disease.
Make sure you take all the medications your medical provider has given you. Stick to a time and routine when it comes to taking your meds.
Ask only your doctor about additional medications that may help with your condition. Do not self medicate as it will make you more vulnerable to heart failure and aggravate heart failure warning signs and symptoms.
Keeping track of your weight and blood pressure will determine whether you are getting better or worse. If you notice that you have gained more weight, then your body is building up fluids. It is best to call your doctor immediately.
The heart is one of the most used vital organs in your body. Thus, taking extra measures in making sure that it is functioning properly will decrease your chances of experiencing heart failure warning signs and symptoms.
If you are currently battling this condition, make sure that you follow all of your doctor’s advice at all times. Do not self medicate or wait for the condition to worsen
Heart failure is irreversible and is considered a long-term condition. However, being well-informed on how to manage it properly will help you live a long and fruitful life.
Learn more about Heart Health, here.
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Heart Failure https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/heart-failure Accessed July 5, 2020
Causes of Heart Failure https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/heart-failure/causes-and-risks-for-heart-failure/causes-of-heart-failure Accessed July 5, 2020
Heart Failure: Compensation by the Heart and the Body https://www.uofmhealth.org/health-library/aa86963 Accessed July 5, 2020