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A VISUAL GUIDE TO HEART FAILURE

There is a misconception that heart failure means like any other machinery a complete breakdown and stopping of your heart. Whereas heart failure means your heart is not working as well as it should. Heart failure occurs when the heart muscles get weaker and are unable to pump enough blood and oxygen to your body. The heart is so versatile that it will try to compensate for a while but finally shows signs of its failure and you’ll have to rush for medical assistance which may sometimes be too late.

CAUSES OF HEART FAILURE

The heart functions constantly day and night and throughout your life, naturally after many years of tireless work the heart tends to slow down as you age. But if the same slowing down occurs at a age when it is not supposed to happen then it is a cause for serious worry. The causes that can bring about this condition include blood pressure, coronary artery disease, heart attack, birth defect of heart, blood sugar or a disease that debilitates the blood-pumping muscle. Lung disease can also lead to heart failure along with obesity, diabetes and sleep apnea.

MAIN SYMPTOMS OF HEART FAILURE

SHORTNESS OF BREATH

Shortness of breath on doing some activity is the first sign of something wrong. It can also happen when you are at rest and this happens usually when heart failure has worsened. Shortness of breath occurs when we are lying down or sleeping, because the heart is not able to keep up the blood flow back towards it from the lungs. When this happens there is a possibility of fluids leaking into the lungs making it harder to breath.

CONSTANT FATIGUE

When the heart is not pumping at its best the brain takes the blood it needs from less important areas of the body like the muscles in the limbs. The same is done by other vital organs to keep them functioning. This makes the arms and legs to feel weak. You will have symptoms of tiredness and listlessness. Everyday things like climbing stairs or walking across a hallway will become tedious. You may also feel light-headed and sleepy.

TROUBLING COUGH & WHEEZ

Another sign of weak heart is the constant cough and wheezing problem you may experience. This is because of the blood returning to the heart from the lungs is backing up and fluids get into the lungs. At times the cough may bring out white or pinkish mucus. Consult your doctor immediately on observing such symptoms.

FEET SWELLING AND WEIGHT GAIN

Many times you must have observed feet swelling and feeling a bit overweight but this goes away. If you have persistent feet swelling and you measure and see that you have quickly gained weight then it needs further observation. The fluids can back up into body tissues due to a weak heart and cause this or the kidney with less of blood to work with may not be able to get rid of sodium causing more fluids to stay in the tissues. These are dangerous symptoms and you need medical help immediately.

FEELING NAUSEA

You may feel like throwing up or you just feel all filled up and have no appetite. This happens because the digestive system is not getting enough of blood and oxygen to function at its normal best.

RACING HEART

When the heart is not functioning properly the body has certain mechanism to correct this including  adding muscle to the heart, expanding the heart so that it can stretch and snap back or by making the heart beat faster.

To prevent heart failures the best way is to control the diet, lose weight and exercise properly. If you are in the habit of smoking then first thing is to quit smoking. On consul ting your doctor if required you may be given medicines to prevent further damage to your heart and ensure its proper functioning.

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