What is Heart failure?

Heart failure can be a serious condition that requires medical attention. It is an imbalance between the heart’s ability to pump blood and the body’s ability to remove it from the body.

Heart failure is a condition in which the heart is not able to adequately pump blood to the rest of the body.

What are the symptoms of heart failure?

While the symptoms vary from person to person, the most common are:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Fatigue
  • Swelling in the legs, ankles, or feet
  • Chest pain
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Heart palpitations
  • Leg swelling

Heart failure can also cause other symptoms that affect the abdomen or the lungs, such as:

  • Abdominal swelling
  • Abdominal pain
  • A cough
  • Heart failure cough
  • Heart failure wheezing
  • Heart failure breathlessness
  • Pulmonary edema
  • Pleural effusion
  • Pleural rub
  • Pulmonary congestion

Heart failure can also cause other symptoms, such as:

  • Headache
  • Muscle cramps
  • Weakness
  • Anxiety
  • Confusion

What causes heart failure?

Heart failure is usually caused by another condition, such as:

  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Congestive heart failure
  • High cholesterol
  • Coronary artery disease
  • Heart attack

Heart failure may also be caused by a viral infection, such as a virus or bacteria.

How is heart failure diagnosed?

Your healthcare provider will ask you about your symptoms and medical history. You will also need to describe your symptoms in detail.

Your provider may also ask about your lifestyle and the medicines you are taking. This information can help rule out other causes of symptoms.

Your provider will then do a physical exam and listen to your heart with a stethoscope. This may reveal any abnormal sounds, such as:

  • A racing or fluttering heartbeat
  • An extra or unusual sound when the heart beats

Your provider may also use imaging tests to assess your heart. These may include:

  • Electrocardiogram. This test records the electrical impulses in your heart.
  • Chest X-ray. This test uses a small amount of radiation to produce a picture of your heart.
  • Echocardiogram. This test uses sound waves to produce a moving picture of your heart.
  • Cardiac catheterization. This test is rarely used to diagnose heart failure.

How is heart failure treated?

Treatment for heart failure depends on the cause. For many people, treatment may include:

  • Lifestyle changes. These changes can help you manage your heart failure. You may need to quit smoking, lose weight, and follow a heart-healthy diet.
  • Medications. Medicines may help lower your blood pressure and cholesterol. If your heart failure is related to high blood pressure, your provider may recommend medication to help your heart work better.
  • Oxygen therapy. You may need to get an extra amount of oxygen through a breathing tube into your lungs. This helps your heart pump blood more efficiently.
  • In some cases, you may need to have a heart transplant.

How can I prevent heart failure?

You can’t always avoid heart failure. But you can reduce your risk of developing it. For example, it’s important to:

  • Follow a heart-healthy diet. This can help you manage your heart disease.
  • Exercise regularly. Aim to get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise each week.
  • Get enough sleep.
  • Try to control your stress.
  • Take your medicine as prescribed.
  • Get regular checkups with your healthcare provider.

What can I do to help my heart?

Having heart failure can be hard. But there are things you can do to help yourself. Ask your healthcare provider for some tips.

Heart failure can cause physical symptoms, such as shortness of breath. But it can also cause emotional symptoms, such as depression, anxiety, or anger. These symptoms can affect your quality of life.

It’s important to talk with your provider about your emotional symptoms. They can help you manage them. They can also provide referrals for mental health providers or counseling.

What is the long-term outlook for people with heart failure?

The outlook for the treatment of heart failure depends on why you have it. For many people, heart failure is a chronic condition that gets better or worse over time.

Having heart failure doesn’t mean you’re destined to live a life of pain and discomfort. With the right treatment and lifestyle changes, you can manage your heart failure and live a healthy, active life.

Can I prevent heart failure?

It’s not possible to prevent heart failure. But you can lower your risk of developing it by following a heart-healthy diet, exercising regularly, and getting enough sleep.

If you have heart failure, you’re at risk for:

  • Heart attack. This is the most common cause of sudden death in people with heart failure.
  • Heart failure. This condition occurs when your heart can’t pump blood effectively. It is usually caused by coronary artery disease. But it can also be caused by heart attack, high blood pressure, heart valve disease, or cardiomyopathy.
  • Stroke. This is a condition in which blood flow to your brain is blocked. It can be caused by heart failure or coronary artery disease.
  • Kidney failure. This condition occurs when your kidneys can’t remove enough waste from your body. It is usually caused by heart failure.

How can I manage my heart failure?

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle can help you manage heart failure. You may also need to take medications to help your heart.

Talk with your healthcare provider about the following lifestyle changes:

  • Losing weight if you’re overweight.
  • Getting regular exercise.
  • Eating enough fruit and vegetables.
  • Reducing your salt intake. This can help lower blood pressure.
  • Getting enough sleep.
  • Avoiding tobacco products.
  • Quitting or limiting alcohol.

The takeaway

Heart failure is a serious condition. It can be treated with medications and lifestyle changes. However, many people with heart failure don’t get enough treatment. This can lead to complications, including heart failure

Most people with heart failure will need to take medications to help their heart work better. They may also need to take lifestyle changes to help manage their heart failure

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