Heart failure is a grave concern for many Americans. Often referred to as congestive heart failure, heart failure occurs when the heart muscle does not pump blood adequately as it should. There are certain conditions, including narrowed arteries (coronary artery disease) or high blood pressure that ultimately lead to heart failure. Gradually, the heart becomes too weak or stiff to pump blood efficiently.
Unfortunately for some, not all conditions leading to heart failure can be reversed. In most cases, though, treatment can help improve the overall signs and symptoms of heart failure. With ongoing treatment, patients can live longer lives overall. Most commonly, treatment includes lifestyle changes – exercising, dieting, stress management, and weight loss – to improve the overall quality of life.
Another common method to prevent heart failure is to address the causes of heart failure directly. These causes include coronary artery disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and obesity.
Congestive Heart Failure Symptoms You Shouldn’t Ignore
There are cases in which heart failure is ongoing (chronic) or sudden (acute). The symptoms you experience will vary depending on which type of heart failure you experience. Most include, but are not limited to:
- Shortness of breath when lying down or exerting yourself.
- General fatigue and weakness throughout the day.
- Swelling of the legs, ankles, and feet.
- Rapid or irregular heartbeat.
- Increased need to urinate during the nighttime.
- Persistent coughing or wheezing with white or pink blood-tinged phlegm.
- Rapid weight gain caused by fluid retention.
- Lack of appetite or increased nausea around food.
- Difficulty concentrating or overall decreased alertness.
- Sudden, severe shortness of breath and mucus-laced coughing fits.
- Chest pain if heart failure is caused by a heart attack.
If you experience any of these symptoms, immediately seek medical attention. If you think your recent bout of symptoms may be related to heart failure, seek emergency treatment – especially if you experience chest pain, fainting, weakness, or a rapid, irregular heartbeat.
If you were previously diagnosed with heart disease or your symptoms suddenly worsen for seemingly no reason, it is often because your existing heart failure has worsened or failed to respond to treatment. Another common sign of worsening heart failure is gaining up to five pounds within a matter of a few days.
Types of Heart Failure
Despite what most people think, there are multiple types of heart failure that affect us. These types include left-sided, right-sided, systolic, and diastolic. Let’s explore each one further:
- Left-sided Heart Failure – Fluid may back up in the lungs, causing shortness of breath.
- Right-sided Heart Failure – Fluid may back up in the abdomen, legs, and feet, leading to swelling.
- Systolic Heart Failure – The left ventricle cannot contract, indicating a blood pumping issue.
- Diastolic Heart Failure – The left ventricle cannot relax or fill completely, indicating a blood filling issue.
If you experience any of the mentioned symptoms of heart failure, please call Brookhaven Heart immediately at 631-654-3278. There is no time to hesitate, so please seek emergency medical attention from a trusted source!