Heart failure is a life-threatening condition that occurs when the cardiac muscle is weakened and can no longer meet the demands of the other organs in the body. Heart failure is a serious condition, and there is usually no cure. However, with the right treatment, the patient can still lead an enjoyable, meaningful, and productive life.
What is heart failure?
Even though it may sound like it, heart failure does not necessarily mean that the heart has failed. However, heart failure is a serious condition where the heart does not pump blood around the body efficiently.
Types of heart failure
There are 2 types of heart failure.
- Acute heart failure – a sudden worsening of the signs and symptoms of heart failure
- Chronic heart failure – a chronic progressive condition that affects the pumping power of your heart muscles
Causes of heart failure
There are lots of reasons why you may develop heart failure. It can be sudden or it can happen slowly over months or even years. Coronary artery disease is the most common form of heart disease and the most common cause of heart failure. The disease results from the buildup of plaque in arteries, which reduce blood flow and can lead to heart attack. Hypertension, valvular heart disease, and cardiomyopathy can also lead to heart failure.
Heart failure can be chronic (ongoing), or your condition may start suddenly (acute). The key symptom is chest pain that may feel like tightness, heavy pressure, or squeezing that lasts for 2-3 minutes. If you experience this symptom, seek medical attention immediately. Some patients experience back pain, pain in the arm or neck, shortness of breath, dizziness, and nausea. This may lead to death.
Can heart failure be prevented?
The best way to prevent heart failure is to avoid the conditions that contribute to it, or to carefully manage these conditions. Lifestyle factors make a big difference. Stop smoking, avoid drinking alcohol, get enough rest, and exercise regularly and it can help prevent this condition.
Who are at risk?
Heart failure is more likely to happen as we age, but anyone can develop heart failure. People who have higher risk are as below.
- Family history of heart failure
- People who have chronic conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, and hyperlipidemia
The key to preventing heart failure is to reduce your risk factors. It is never too early to make healthy lifestyle changes, such as quitting smoking, cutting down on salt and eating healthy foods. These changes can help prevent heart failure from starting or worsening.