What to know about heart failure

Monday, April 29, 2024
If you or someone you love has heart failure, the diagnosis can be scary. The condition is serious, but many people learn how to manage heart failure and live normal lives.
It might surprise you to learn that heart failure doesn't mean that the heart has stopped working. When someone is diagnosed with heart failure, it means their heart's ability to pump blood is impaired. Heart failure is a chronic condition that worsens over time—if it's not managed.
There are two types of heart failure. Left-sided heart failure usually happens first. Congestive heart failure is a kind of heart failure that calls for fast treatment. The terms heart failure and congestive heart failure are often used interchangeably.
With heart failure, the heart isn't pumping blood out of the heart as vigorously as it should. When this happens, your cells can't get enough oxygen. Heart failure symptoms come on gradually. It's a chronic condition.
When you have a heart attack, blood flow to the heart is slowed dramatically or completely blocked. It's a health emergency. Call 911 or go to the hospital if you think you're having a heart attack.
Symptoms of a heart attack include:
• Chest pain.
• Upper body pain.
• Dizziness.
• Shortness of breath.
Symptoms vary depending on what kind of heart failure you have and how severe it is. Mild heart failure may have no noticeable symptoms outside of hard exertion. Symptoms to watch for include:
• Shortness of breath.
• Swelling in the legs.
• Fatigue.
• Excessive coughing.
• Weakness.
• Trouble concentrating.
• Difficulty walking.
• Sudden weight change.
Past heart conditions, such as a heart attack, increase your risk of heart failure. Another issue that raises your risk is metabolic syndrome. You may have metabolic syndrome if you have three or more of these health concerns:
• Large waistline (abdominal obesity).
• High triglycerides.
• Low HDL (good) cholesterol.
• High blood pressure.
• High fasting blood sugar.
Other common issues that can raise your risk of heart failure include:
• Coronary artery disease.
• High blood pressure.
• Type 2 diabetes.
• Smoking.
• Hyperactive thyroid.
• Being severely overweight.
• Excessive alcohol or drug use.
If you're diagnosed with heart failure, your health care provider will talk to you about treatment options. Lifestyle changes are almost certain to be among their recommendations. You'll be encouraged to adopt a healthy eating pattern, stay physically active and reduce stress.
If you have questions about heart failure, schedule an appointment with a member of Watson Clinic’s Cardiology department by calling 863-680-7490.
Sources: American Heart Association; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute

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