As the heart’s pumping becomes less effective, blood may back up in other areas of the body such as the lungs, liver, gastrointestinal tract, arms and legs (congestive heart failure).
In heart failure, the heart can no longer pump out enough oxygen-rich blood causing symptoms to occur throughout the body. It is often a chronic condition, but it may come on suddenly.
It is present when: the heart muscle cannot pump the blood out of the heart (systolic heart failure) or the heart muscle is stiff and does not fill up with blood (diastolic heart failure). As the heart’s pumping becomes less effective, blood may back up in other areas of the body such as the lungs, liver, gastrointestinal tract, arms and legs (congestive heart failure).Symptoms often begin slowly. At first, they may only occur when the patient is very active. Over time, patients may notice breathing problems and other symptoms even while resting. Symptoms may also appear after the heart is damaged from a heart attack.
Common symptoms include: Cough, fatigue, weakness, faint-ness, loss of appetite, palpitations, shortness of breath with activity or after lying down, swollen (enlarged) liver or abdomen, swollen feet and ankles, waking up from sleep due to shortness of breath and weight gain.
Causes of heart failure are coronary artery disease, hypertension and other issues such as congenital heart disease, heart valve disease, infection that weakens the heart muscle, some arrhythmias, amyloidosis, emphysema, overactive and underactive thyroid, sarcoidosis, severe anemia.
Signs may include: fast or difficult breathing, leg swelling (edema), distended neck veins, sounds (crackles) from fluid buildup in lungs (heard through a stethoscope), swelling of the liver or abdomen, uneven or fast heart-beat and abnormal heart sounds. An echocardiogram (echo) is often the best test. Other imaging tests can look at how well the heart is able to pump blood, and how much the heart muscle is damaged. Medicines treat the symptoms and prevent heart failure from getting worse. It is very important to take the medicine as specified. No other drugs or herbs should be taken without asking the treating physician.
Contact your physician in these cases: Increased cough or phlegm, sudden weight gain or swelling, weak-ness, and other new or unexplained symptoms. Go to the emergency room if there is fainting, fast and irregular heartbeat, severe crushing chest pain. These surgeries and de-vices are recommended for certain patients with heart failure: Coronary bypass surgery (CABG), angioplasty stenting may help improve blood flow to the heart muscle, heart valve surgery may be done if valve disease is causing heart failure and a pacemaker can help treat slow heart rates or help both sides of the heart contract at the same time.