Skye likes writing about mental health, nutrition, and wellness. She is passionate about sharing information that will educate, and positively affect people's lives.
Po-Chang Hsu, M.D.
Dr. Hsu received his medical degree from Tufts University in Boston, Massachusetts, and holds a Master’s of Science degree from both Harvard University and Tufts University. Outside of the medical profession, Dr. Hsu loves to write, learn new languages, and travel.
June 22, 2021
Heart failure is a chronic and progressive condition brought on by any disease or condition that causes the heart to overwork. This overwork will cause the heart to stiffen or weaken over time and not work efficiently. This piece will examine heart failure symptoms, causes and treatments.
It’s important to become familiar with heart failure symptoms and causes, as many people do not realize that they have heart failure until months or years of damage have been done.
There are many possible causes of heart failure. Here are some of the most common causes of heart failure.
Diseases like diabetes, HIV, hemochromatosis, or hypo or hyperthyroidism may weaken the heart muscle (especially if not properly treated)
Damage to the heart muscle can be caused by many things, such as disease or infection, drug abuse, and some chemotherapy drugs.
Some people are born with heart valves that don’t function properly or parts of the heart that are malformed. The heart becomes overworked trying to compensate, and this can lead to heart failure.
This is an inflammation of the heart muscle, commonly caused by viruses.
A heart arrhythmia is when the heart beats irregularly. Both tachycardia (rapid heartbeat) and bradycardia (slow heartbeat) can cause the heart to overwork and create damage.
Chronic high blood pressure creates a need for greater heart exertion to pump blood through the body. Over time, this can weaken or stiffen the heart muscle.
The most common heart disease and the most common cause of heart failure, CAD, results in fatty plaques blocking blood flow in arteries. This, in turn, causes the heart to overwork in compensation.
The best way to avoid heart failure is to work closely with your doctor and have regular check-ups to control any of these diseases. When heart failure symptoms become too obvious to be missed, it may mean that the heart has suffered damages for a long period.
Some risk factors for heart failure are:
Heart failure symptoms may vary based on which part of the heart is affected. There are three types of heart failure:
This is usually (not always) the first place that heart failure occurs. It is also the most common. This occurs when the left atrium does not properly pump blood out of the body. With left-sided heart failure, fluid eventually backs up into the lungs. There are two kinds of left-sided heart failure. These are:
This occurs when the right ventricle has difficulty pumping blood to your lungs, and fluid becomes backed up in the abdomen and lower extremities. This can cause pressure on other organs.
Biventricular heart failure causes both sides of the heart to be affected. It causes the same symptoms of both the left and right side heart failure listed above.
Heart failure symptoms can depend on which kind of heart failure a person has, although they are all quite similar. They may experience any of the following symptoms:
If you have chest pain, shortness of breath, fainting, or a cough that produces pink mucus, call emergency services immediately. If you have any other concerning symptoms, make an appointment with your doctor as soon as possible.
Treatment may vary based on the severity, type, and underlying cause of the heart failure. Some medications used for heart failure are diuretics, beta-blockers, and ACE inhibitors. Your doctor will decide which of these or what combination is best for the specific case.
Some severe forms of heart failure require surgery to correct damage, or underlying deformities such as valve replacements or angioplasty.
In all cases, a doctor will likely recommend lifestyle changes to extend and improve the quality of life. This includes:
“If you have a diagnosis of heart failure,” notes Mayo Clinic, “and if any of the symptoms suddenly become worse or you develop a new sign or symptom, it may mean that existing heart failure is getting worse or not responding to treatment. This may also be the case if you gain 5 pounds (2.3 kg) or more within a few days. Contact your doctor promptly.”
Whether you are experiencing heart failure symptoms or just have questions, it is important to treat heart disease as soon as possible to prevent further damage.
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