Heart Failure definition
Heart failure (HF) is a medical condition in which the heart is unable to pump enough blood to meet the body’s needs. This can be caused by various factors, including weakened heart muscle, damage to the heart muscle from a heart attack, high blood pressure, and others. The blood backs up in the veins, causing fluid to build up in the lungs, legs, and other parts of the body. This can lead to shortness of breath, fatigue, and swelling in the legs and feet. Heart failure can be managed with medications, lifestyle changes, and in some cases, medical procedures or surgery.
Heart Failure symptoms
The symptoms of heart failure can include:
- Shortness of breath, especially with physical activity or when lying down
- Fatigue and weakness
- Rapid or irregular heartbeat
- Swelling in the legs, ankles, and feet
- Rapid weight gain from fluid buildup
- Chest pain or discomfort
- Decreased ability to exercise
- Persistent cough or wheezing with white or pink blood-tinged phlegm
- Decreased appetite and nausea
- Increased need to urinate at night
It’s important to note that heart failure can have a gradual onset and the symptoms can be mild at first. If you are experiencing any symptoms of heart failure, it is important to see a doctor for proper diagnosis and treatment.
Heart Failure and Normal Heart differences
A normal heart and a heart affected by heart failure differ in their ability to pump blood and fill with blood.
In a normal heart:
- The heart muscle contracts and relaxes normally, pumping blood effectively throughout the body.
- The heart fills with blood between beats and contracts to pump the blood forward.
In heart failure:
- The heart muscle may be weakened or damaged, making it less able to contract and pump blood effectively.
- The heart may not be able to fill with enough blood between beats, leading to a buildup of fluid in the body.
- The heart may have to work harder to pump blood, leading to fatigue and shortness of breath.
It’s important to note that heart failure can occur in one or both sides of the heart, and can be classified as either systolic heart failure (when the heart is not able to contract effectively) or diastolic heart failure (when the heart is not able to relax and fill with blood effectively).