Congestive heart failure (CHF) is a very dangerous condition because the heart’s ability to pump blood to the various parts of the body has been impaired for some reason so that insufficient oxygen is being received by the various organs. It is the function of the blood to carry oxygen from the lungs to different parts of the body. With CHF, the heart is finding it difficult to pump blood so that there is less oxygen being received by the various cells of the body, thus resulting in the usual symptoms of fatigue, shortness of breath, reduced capacity to exercise, and edema.
What Happens When You Have Congestive Heart Failure?
When blood starts to move through the body at a slower rate, all of the other internal organs are affected by that. Blood is responsible for the delivery of oxygen throughout the rest of the body. When it moves slower than normal, then the rest of the tissues and organs will not be able to function properly as they won’t have enough oxygen to do so.
One of the main symptoms associated with CHF is shortness of breath. This is caused by the lack of sufficient oxygen not just in the lungs, but across the body. The result is that affected person tries to take in more air when breathing. Unfortunately, this does not enable the heart to pump harder, which means the problem remains unresolved.
Indeed, the greatest issue with CHF is that the heart is not able to pump at an efficient rate. This means that the overall biological circulation cycle no longer runs the way it should. The blood, essentially, is finding it hard to make the full trip around the body, getting back to the heart. The danger with this, is that it can cause a backlog in the veins. This is the “congestion” element in congestive heart failure. It means that pools of blood start to form in different tissues, including in the lungs. When this happens, shortness of breath becomes even worse. Meanwhile, this also leads to fluids accumulating in the feet and ankles, leading to edema or swelling, which is commonly seen in CHF patients.
As the blood doesn’t flow properly, other parts of the body are affected, and these include the kidneys. When blood flow is sluggish, the kidneys find it difficult, if not impossible, to get rid of the excess fluids, which is supposed to be their role. This, in turn, makes the edema worse, while also increasing the chance of congestion in the veins.
Another important CHF symptom that comes on top of shortness of breath, fluid retention, and swelling, is an irregular heart beat. The medical terminology for this is “arrhythmia”, which means that the heart’s electrical circuitry is starting to malfunction. This can be very serious and it is very important, therefore, that you seek medical attention if and when you do experience this.
Causes of Congestive Heart Failure:
Most of the time, CHF is caused by damage in the heart valves. In the heart of a healthy individual, the valve automatically closes between two pumps. This ensures that the blood continues to flow in the right direction. However, if the valve is damaged and it doesn’t close properly, then the blood also cannot circulate like it should. This, in turn, can lead to CHF. That said, other causes also exist, including atherosclerosis, birth defects, infections, and heart attacks, to name but a few.
Atherosclerosis is of particular concern. Not only can it directly cause CHF, but it can also increase blood pressure. With high blood pressure, people are more likely to develop CHF as it means their heart has to work harder to pump the blood in the body. In fact, scientists agree that some 75% of people who have been diagnosed with CHF, also have a high blood pressure. Needless to say, it is of incredible importance that someone with CHF maintain a normal blood pressure, so as not to make the heart work even harder.
Various other factors increase the chances of someone developing CHF. These include things, such as various nutritional deficiencies, excessive salt intake, emotional stress, liver disease, and kidney disease. Essentially, if you have ever done anything that placed your heart under abnormal stress and strain, there is a chance that you will develop CHF.
Living with Congestive Heart Failure:
CHF is a very serious condition that has a significant negative impact on the quality of life of patients. Yet, it is not a well known heart problem. A lot of research has been conducted on conditions, such as coronary heart disease, which is now much more treatable. The same cannot be said for CHF, which is worrisome particularly when you consider that it is actually a common condition. It is believed that some 5 million people in this country have heart failure, many of whom suffer from CHF. This is also most common in people over the age of 75, which is when the heart starts to reach the end of its life. It is almost unheard of for people under the age of 45 to develop CHF, however. The problem is that many elderly people see the condition as a normal part of aging and therefore do not seek the treatment they need to increase their quality of life, and even their life expectancy.
You must understand that CHF is a very serious medical condition. It is progressive and chronic, which means there is currently no cure available for it. However, it is possible to live a rich and full life with CHF, so long as you receive appropriate medical care and you follow the guidelines set by your physician. Medical experts are likely to design a comprehensive treatment plan for you, which should include things, such as your diet and exercise routines, which are all appropriate to your age and physical ability. It is essential that you follow those guidelines and that you regularly visit your physician for updates and checks, as that can help prevent the condition from getting worse rapidly. Unfortunately, there is currently no cure for the condition. It is also discriminate of gender or race. If you believe your heart may be malfunctioning, then do seek help sooner rather than later.