Understanding your illness and treatment can help you feel more in control. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Dealing with heart disease involves doctors, nurses, social workers and other specially trained healthcare professionals. You will receive lots of new and complex information and need to make many serious decisions. So it is important to be able to communicate clearly with your entire healthcare team.
Heart failure stops the heart from pumping blood as it should, it doesn’t mean that your heart has stopped beating. The heart keeps working, but the body’s need for blood and oxygen isn’t being met. Heart failure can get worse if it’s not treated so it is important to follow your physicians orders. When living a healthy lifestyle, you will feel much better and have a higher quality of life!
Results of Heart Failure
- Heart does not pump enough blood.
- Blood backs up in veins.
- Fluid builds up, causing swelling in feet, ankles, and legs (edema).
- Body holds too much fluid.
- Fluid builds up in lungs, which is called “pulmonary congestion.”
- Body does not get enough blood and oxygen.
Signs of Heart Failure
- Shortness of breath, especially when lying down.
- Feeling tired and run-down.
- Swelling in feet, ankles, legs, and abdomen.
- Angina (pain or discomfort in the chest).
- Weight gain from fluid buildup.
- Confusion or unable to think clearly.
Causes of Heart Failure
- Clogged arteries don’t let enough blood flow to the heart.
- Past heart attack has done damage to the heart muscle.
- Heart defects present since birth.
- High blood pressure.
- Heart valve disease.
- Diseases of the heart muscle.
- Infection of the heart and/or heart valves.
Treating Heart Failure
- Consume less sodium (salt).
- Prescriptions from your physician to help your heart to function better and to help your body from retaining excess fluids.
(Adapted from the American Heart Association)