Heart failure means when the heart cannot pump the full amount of blood in each heartbeat. It doesn’t mean that it stops working.
There are three types of heart failure, depending on the affected side of the heart, not on its cause. Those are:
- Systolic heart failure is when the ventricles of the heart do not contract properly during each heartbeat. Depending on the extent of this contraction, the symptoms differ from mild to severe. The less pumping power, the more severe the symptoms.
- Diastolic heart failure is when the ventricle does not fill up with blood enough when the heart rests in between each heartbeat.
- A combination of the above two types.
Heart failure may occur only the right ventricle (right-sided heart failure) or the left ventricle (left-sided heart failure), or both.
Symptoms of heart failure depend on the types of heart failure. The symptoms of right heart failure are swollen ankles and legs, due to excess fluids in the legs. The left heart failure symptom is breathlessness, which is worse during walking or exercising, joined by cough. Other symptoms are:
- loss of appetite
- chest pains
Heart failure may be caused by several conditions:
- Ischemic heart disease, which is reduced blood flow to the coronary arteries that supply blood and oxygen to the heart muscle.
- Heart muscle diseases
- High blood pressure
- Diseases of the heart valves
- Other conditions that may affect the heart, for e.g. thyroid disease
The risk factors of heart failure are:
- Coronary artery disease
- Heart attack
- high blood pressure
- Valvular heart disease
- Congenital heart disease
- Smoking, drinking alcohol
Complications of heart failure arise from the severity of the disease. Therefore, they could include:
- heart valve problems, if the heart is enlarged or the heart pressure is high
- kidney damage or failure, because there can be reduced blood flow to the kidneys
- liver damage, due to possible excess fluids retained, making pressure on the liver
In the ocnditions worsens, in some cases heart transplant may be required or a ventricular device.
Heart failure can be prevented or reduced if you eliminate the risk factors, i.e. the the change of your lifestyle into a healthy one, such as:
- healthy diet
- physical exercises
- quit smoking
- control your blood pressure and cholesterol
- stress management