Heart Failure

Condition

Also known as Congestive Heart Failure (CHF), Cardiomyopathy or Cor Pulmonale, heart failure occurs when the heart muscle is weak, damaged and/or enlarged and unable to pump enough oxygenated blood to meet the individual demands of one’s body causing serious symptoms. Heart failure affects approximately 5.1 million Americans. The health expenditures for heart failure costs the nation an estimated $32 billion each year.

Heart failure symptoms may include the following:

  • Fatigue (with or without exercise or activity)
  • Frequent cough or wheezing or a cough that produces a pinkish-colored substance
  • Shortness of breath during activity, when bending down or even while resting
  • Sudden weight gain, feeling bloated and/or noticing an increase in water weight
  • Swelling in your ankles, feet and legs
  • Difficulty walking

Causes of Heart Failure

A normal, healthy heart is an amazing organ. It pumps oxygen and nutrient-rich blood throughout the body, helping organs function properly and sustain life. A healthy heart beats – expanding and contracting – 100,000 or more times per day. The heart can pump five to six quarts of blood each minute, or about 2,000 gallons per day. On average, over the course of a lifetime, the human heart beats more than 2 billion times.

Heart failure can be hereditary or related to not taking prescribed medications. Not seeking help to get blood pressure under control, extended usage of medications, recreational drugs, alcohol and smoking causing serious symptoms. Abnormal heart valves may also lead to heart failure. Your heart valves open and close keeping blood moving steady in the right direction, but if the heart valve doesn’t function correctly, it can keep the blood from circulating and moving forward – a condition known as stenosis. Another heart valve malfunction is called regurgitation, which is the result of a valve that leaks causing blood to flow backwards. Atrial fibrillation, which causes rapid and irregular heartbeats that keep blood from flowing properly and decrease the heart’s ability to pump blood by as much as 25%, can also lead to heart failure. There are also times when the cause of heart failure is simply unknown. This is often referred to as idiopathic dilated cardiomyopathy.