Research shows that around 5.7 million people in the U.S. are living with congested heart failure. Unfortunately, roughly half of these individuals will die within five years of being diagnosed. This is especially true for the patients who fail to seek treatment during the early stages of heart failure.
Although congested heart failure can stem from a hereditary issue, it’s more often caused by unhealthy lifestyle behaviors. The good news is that you can lessen the effects of heart failure by eating a strict diet and exercising regularly.
Let’s take a closer look at this serious ailment.
What is Congested Heart Failure?
Congested heart failure is a condition where the heart is too weak to effectively pump blood throughout the body. If you fail to get the necessary medical treatment, your heart health will continue to worsen. Because of the poor blood circulation, your other organs are also put at risk. The kidneys are especially prone to becoming damaged. In severe cases, they will no longer be able to effectively excrete water and salt. Meanwhile, a damaged liver can cause excess toxins to build up within the body. During late-stage heart failure, there’s a good chance for the blood to become infected.
To properly identify heart failure, your physician will need to perform a thorough evaluation. Diagnostic tests, such as an electrocardiogram (ECG) and chest X-ray, will also help the doctor to detect a weakening heart.
What Causes Heart Failure?
High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure is among the most common health problems in the country. In fact, statistics reveal that more than 100 million Americans suffer from high blood pressure. It has a direct impact on the heart’s performance.
Excessive salt intake and stress are two of the biggest culprits. When your blood pressure is elevated, the heart’s left ventricle is forced to work much harder than it should. This extreme workload will eventually cause heart damage.
Coronary Artery Disease
According to physicians, coronary artery disease is the leading cause of congested heart failure. It stems from an excess buildup of fatty deposits in your arteries. As expected, clogged arteries make it extremely difficult for the heart to push out blood. In severe cases, the end result is usually a heart attack. Individuals who eat poorly are far more likely to have coronary artery disease.
Congenital Heart Defects
Unfortunately, you could be born with a defective heart. It’s one of the most prevalent birth defects among new babies. If the chambers and vessels of your heart haven’t formed correctly, blood flow will be inadequate. Although many scientists believe congenital heart defects are hereditary, no one has yet to pinpoint the actual cause.
Despite the problems associated with congenital heart defects, some people are still able to enjoy a quality life. The severity of the condition will vary from one person to the next.
Cardiomyopathy is essentially damage to the heart muscle. While genetic factors can impact cardiomyopathy, it’s often caused by lifestyle factors. People who abuse drugs and alcohol are certainly at risk of experiencing cardiomyopathy. This condition has also been linked to infections such as HIV and Lyme disease.
Abnormal Heart Rhythms
In order for your heart to perform well, it must have a normal rhythm. An irregular heartbeat can cause you to feel lightheaded or short of breath. Failing to address an abnormal rhythm could ultimately lead to congested heart failure. Some of the treatments for this condition include electrical shock therapy and blood thinners.
What are the Signs and Symptoms?
If you’ve been living a sedentary lifestyle, it’s perfectly normal to be a bit winded during your workout. On the other hand, extreme exercise intolerance could point to congested heart failure. Even mild physical activities will make you feel incredibly exhausted. In some instances, you may be on the verge of actually passing out.
Heart failure often results in fluid buildup in the lower body. Your legs, feet, and ankles will look noticeably swollen. This problem happens because your body is having a hard time getting rid of salt and water. The heart is no longer able to steady pump out oxygen-rich blood.
Shortness of Breath
Shortness of breath can have a direct connection to fluid buildup. Simply walking to the restroom may have you gasping for air. Even worse, you may feel short of breath while at rest. Wheezing may eventually become an everyday occurrence.
Although the person suffering from congested heart failure may not acknowledge their confused thinking, friends and relatives will notice it. A man or woman who is known for being quick-witted may suddenly experience difficulty in relaying their thoughts. The individual is also likely to have trouble remembering recent events.
Increased Heart Rate
Your heart rate can increase for several reasons, including emotions and physical activity. However, a constant increased heart rate could indicate heart failure. As a result of the heart’s diminished pumping capacity, it beats faster to push out blood. A lot of people suffering from this condition often experience a racing or throbbing heart.