Heart failure occurs when the heart muscle does not pump as much blood as the body needs. As the heart cannot pump well, the body tries to make up for it by holding on to salt and water, increasing the amount of blood in the bloodstream. Also, this can lead to a faster heartbeat and a bigger heart.
The human body may be able to make up for heart failure but at some point, the heart and the body will fail to keep up. This causes the buildup of fluid in the body and the patient experiences symptoms such as feeling weak and out of breath. This buildup is known as congestion and it is why some doctors call the disorder congestive heart failure. Over time, heart failure gets worse; however, treatment can slow it, helping the patient feel better and live longer. Heart specialists can determine the right treatment for anyone with heart failure.
Causes of Heart Failure
Anything that can damage the heart or impact how well it pumps blood can result in heart failure. This disorder is often caused by high blood pressure, coronary heart disease, and heart attack. Other conditions that can result in heart failure include heart valve disease, diabetes, arrhythmia, long-term heavy alcohol consumption, congenital heart defect, cardiomyopathies, and pericardial disease.
Symptoms of Heart Failure
People with heart failure can start to experience symptoms when their heart can’t pump enough blood to the rest of their body. In the early stages, they may feel tired, experience palpitations, experience shortness of breath when exerting themselves, or feel dizzy or weak. When their heart failure gets worse, they may feel short of breath even if they are at rest, have edema or swelling, have cough or wheeze, gain weight, and feel bloated. Patients who experience worsening symptoms should seek medical help immediately.
Treatment for Heart Failure
Most people who have heart failure must take many medicines. Their doctor may prescribe medicines to help in keeping heart failure from getting worse. These medicines include beta-blockers, ACE inhibitors, vasodilators, and angiotensin II receptor blockers. Also, medications like digoxin and diuretics may be prescribed to reduce symptoms, helping the patient feel better. Some doctors may prescribe medicines to treat the cause of heart failure. Patients should take their medicines exactly as their doctor tells them to. Failure to do so can cause heart failure to get worse.