Congestive Heart Failure is when the heart's pumping power is weaker than normal. It does not mean the heart has stopped working. The blood moves through the heart and body at a slower rate, and pressure in the heart increases. This means; the heart cannot pump enough oxygen and nutrients to meet the body's needs. The chambers of the heart respond by stretching to hold more blood to pump through the body or by becoming more stiff and thickened. This only keeps the blood moving for a short while. The heart muscle walls weaken and are unable to pump as strongly. This makes the kidneys respond by causing the body to retain fluid and sodium. When the body builds up with fluids, it becomes congested. Many conditions can cause heart failure, and they are Coronary artery disease, Heart attack, Cardiomyopathy, and conditions that overwork the heart.
Systolic and Diastolic are the two types of Heart Failure. Systolic dysfunction occurs when the heart muscle doesn't contract with enough force, which means there is less oxygen-rich blood that is pumped throughout the body. Diastolic dysfunction is the heart contracts normally, but the ventricle does not relax properly, reducing the amount of blood that can enter the heart and raise the blood pressure in the lungs. Heart failure is a progressive condition and can worsen over time. There are four stages of heart failure that have been classified by the AHA and ACC. Stage A are people that are at a high risk for developing heart failure. This includes people with high blood pressure, Diabetes, coronary artery disease and metabolic syndrome. Stage A also include people with a history of alcohol abuse, cardiotoxic drug therapy, rheumatic fever, and family history of cardiomyopathy. Stage B is people diagnosed with systolic left ventricular dysfunction but who have never had symptoms of heart failure, also includes people with prior heart attack, valve disease, and cardiomyopathy. The diagnosis is made when an ejection fraction of less than 40% is found during an echocardiogram test. Patients with known systolic heart failure and current or prior symptoms are Stage C. Most common symptoms include, shortness of breath, fatigue and reduced ability to exercise. Stage D is patients with systolic heart failure and presence of advanced symptoms after receiving optimum medical care. Other risk factors for heart failure are some diabetes medications, sleep apnea, congenital heart defects, viruses, and irregular heartbeats. Heart Failure can be treated and managed but not cured. It is a chronic condition.
The signs and symptoms for heart failure include:
Shortness of breath when you exert yourself or when you lie down
Fatigue and weakness
Swelling in your legs, ankles and feet
rapid or irregular heartbeat
reduced ability to exercise
persistent cough or wheezing with white or pink blood-tinged phlegm
increased need to urinate at night
swelling of your abdomen