Heart failure is a condition that occurs when the heart is not pumping blood as effectively as it should. It is estimated that there are more than three million cases of heart failure each year in the United States. It is also known as congestive heart failure and is a chronic condition. With congestive heart failure, the ventricles are unable to pump blood in ample volume. As a result, blood and other fluids get backed up inside the lungs, abdomen, liver, and lower body which can be life-threatening.
Signs and symptoms of congestive heart failure:
· 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
· Increased need to urinate at night
· Swelling of your abdomen
· Sudden weight gain from fluid retention
· Lack of appetite and nausea
· Difficulty concentrating or decreased alertness
· Sudden, severe shortness of breath and coughing up pink, foamy mucus
· Chest pain if your heart failure is caused by a heart attack
Congestive heart failure may be caused by other health conditions that affect your heart such as high blood pressure, coronary artery disease, or certain valve conditions. When your blood pressure is greater than 120/80 mmHg it can eventually lead to CHF if left untreated or not managed properly. With coronary artery disease, your heart’s coronary arteries become damaged by restricting blood flow. The arteries become blocked and narrowed as fatty substances build up. Valve conditions occur when the valves do not open and close correctly which causes the ventricles to work even harder to pump blood to the rest of your body.
Treatment for congestive heart failure may include ACE inhibitor medications, diuretics, heart muscle stimulants, beta-blockers, surgery, devices such as a pacemaker or implantable cardioverter-defibrillator, or a heart transplant.