What is Congestive Heart Failure?

Congestive heart failure is when the heart has stopped working less efficiently, and the heart can’t pump enough blood to keep pace with the body’s needs. This weakened condition doesn’t mean there aren’t any avenues for treatment, but congestive heart failure needs prompt medical attention. Because the heart can no longer keep up with the body’s demands, it means the body likely isn’t getting the oxygen it needs to function properly and efficiently. Heart failure is a serious condition that doesn’t have an outright cure, but can be managed through treatment and some lifestyle changes. This isn’t to be confused with congenital heart disease, which is an abnormality in the heart that develops before birth.

What Happens to Your Heart

Congestive heart failure is commonly a progressive condition where the body isn’t able to pump enough blood. When the body can’t keep up with the workload, it tries to compensate through various physical changes. One of those changes can be the heart pumping faster, which is why one noticeable symptom is an irregular or accelerated heartbeat. The heart can also stretch and enlarge to compensate with stronger contractions, or can develop more muscle mass. These methods can result in an enlarged heart. 

These internal adjustments are not a permanent fix for heart failure, as the condition will continue to worsen until these methods of compensation no longer work. Some of these compensatory measure taken by the body can last for years before heart failure becomes noticeable or begins to decline. When the heart can’t keep up with the demands of pumping blood to the body, it can begin to divert some of the blood away from less important tissues and organs. 

What are the Symptoms of Congestive Heart Failure?

Preventative care is the best care for congestive heart failure, meaning regular checkups with your doctor are imperative to getting out in front of this condition. Because congestive heart failure causes your heart’s ventricles to pump less efficiently, this can cause blood and other fluids to back up in your lungs and abdomen, as well as your lower extremities. Swelling in your ankles and feet can be a symptom of this, and that can worsen into a nasty cough and rapid breathing due to congested lungs. 

Another sign of this is fatigue followed by an irregular heartbeat. If left unchecked, it can cause chest pain that radiates through the upper body. When the body is having issues getting enough oxygen, it can lead to less oxygen getting to vital areas of your body. The lack of oxygen in your lungs can also lead to weight gain – sometimes from lack of the ability to exercise – and that can also lead to difficulty breathing and wheezing. 

Congestive heart failure is a serious condition that can sometimes go unchecked for long periods of time because the early stages of the condition seldom cause drastic changes in your health. For more information on congestive heart failure, its symptoms and potential treatments, reach out to the experts at Conquering CHD today.

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