What is congestive heart failure?
Congestive heart failure is a severe condition that affects the pumping efficiency of your heart. Many various factors can reduce the pumping power of the heart muscles and lead to this chronic progressive disease. There are several types of heart failure. Congestive heart failure specifically describes the stage when fluid builds up around the heart and this, in turn, makes it pump inefficiently.
Congestive heart failure can be life-threatening, so if you notice any alarming symptoms, seek immediate medical care.
Causes of congestive heart failure
Certain diseases and lifestyle habits can affect your heart to cause congestive heart failure. The most common causes of this condition include the following:
- high blood pressure;
- alcohol abuse;
- coronary artery disease;
- disorders of the heart valves.
Viral infections, thyroid problems, and disorders of the heart rhythm can also play an important role in disease progression.
Warning signs of congestive heart failure
In the early stages of congestive heart failure, you most likely won’t experience any changes in your body. When the disease progresses, you will notice that something is wrong with your health. These changes are often gradual. Symptoms you may see first include the following:
- weight gain;
- swelling of the ankles and legs;
- increased need to urinate.
When the condition has worsened, you may experience:
- irregular heartbeat;
- a cough that develops from problems with lungs;
- shortness of breath.
Signs and symptoms of severe congestive heart failure include the following:
- chest pain that spreads through the upper body;
- rapid breathing;
- skin that becomes blue due to lack of oxygen;
Chest pain may also indicate a heart attack. If you spot this or any of the other signs that may signal a severe heart condition, visit your doctor as soon as possible.
What you can do to prevent congestive heart failure
There are several things you can do to reduce the risk of heart failure:
1. Don’t smoke.
If you smoke, quit. You may ask your doctor to advise certain strategies that can help to stop smoking. Secondhand smoke may also be a serious problem. If you have a smoker in your home, ask them to smoke outdoors.
2. Maintain a healthy diet.
A well-balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains can help keep your heart healthy. Choose low-fat dairy products. Also, include enough protein in your ration. Avoid added sugars, solid fats and excessive amounts of salt.
3. Be physically active.
One hour of moderate exercise per week can significantly improve your heart health. Swimming, walking and bicycling are good types of physical activity.
4. Watch your weight.
Extra pounds can affect your heart. Follow a balanced diet and exercise to keep your weight in check. Talk to your doctor if you aren’t at a healthy weight.
This article is solely for informational purposes. Do not self-diagnose or self-medicate, and in all cases consult a certified healthcare professional before using any information presented in the article. The editorial board does not guarantee any results and does not bear any responsibility for harm that may result from using the information provided in the article.