What Heart Failure Looks Like
The name doesn’t mean your heart stops. It just doesn’t work as well as it should. It happens when the muscle is weakened and can’t pump enough blood and oxygen to your body. It can compensate for a while, but eventually you’ll need to get treated.
The heart, a vital organ in our body, pumps blood to every organ and along with blood vessels makes cardiovascular system. Heart diseases or cardiovascular diseases — coronary heart disease, valvular disease, congenital heart disease, cardiomyopathy, rheumatic heart disease, hypertensive heart disease, cerebrovascular disease, ischemic heart disease, inflammatory heart disease — can lead to heart failure.
Heart failure is actually a chronic condition where the heart muscle becomes too weak to pump the blood.
WHAT CAUSES IT?
Your heart can begin to fail as you age, but the condition can affect young people, too. Most people with it had a related problem first. It could be high blood pressure, coronary artery disease, a heart attack, a birth defect of the heart, or a disease that strikes the blood-pumping muscle.
Lung disease can lead to heart failure, too. Obesity, diabetes and sleep apnea have also been linked to it.
EARLY SYMPTOMS YOU SHOULD’T IGNORE
Shortness of Breath
It’s one of the first red flags you may notice, especially after you’re active. It can also happen when you’re at rest once heart failure gets worse. Sometimes you may feel short of breath when you’re lying down or sleeping. That’s because the heart can’t keep up with the blood flow back to it from the lungs. When that happens, fluid leaks into the lungs. That will make it harder to breathe.
If your heart isn’t pumping properly, the brain takes blood from less-important areas of the body — like the muscles in your limbs — to the brain and other vital organs. That can make your arms and legs feel weak. You may feel tired doing everyday things like climbing stairs or walking across the room. You can also get light-headed.
Nagging Cough and Wheeze
This is another sign that your heart is struggling, and that blood returning to it from the lungs is backing up. That means fluid gets in your lungs. Sometimes, the cough can bring up white or pinkish mucus. Let your doctor know if you have it.
CAN IT BE PREVENTED?
You can lower your odds of getting the condition. Make sure to eat well and exercise. If you smoke, quit. If you’re carrying a few extra pounds, do what you can to lose them. If you’re already at high risk, or your heart already is damaged, your doctor can help lower your risk with medicine. It’s important that you and your doctor work as a team.