Congestive heart failure (CHF) is a chronic disease that causes a person’s heart muscles to pump inefficiently. The reason for this is fluid that builds up around the heart and affects the pumping power of the muscles. Congestive heart failure occurs when the ventricles of the heart (that normally pump blood to your body’s organs and tissues) cannot pump enough blood into your body.
The most common type of CHF is left-sided congestive heart failure which occurs when the left ventricle doesn’t properly pump blood in the body’s organs and tissues. As a result, blood and other body fluids accumulate in your lungs, liver, abdomen, and lower extremities.
As the disease progresses, built up fluids in your lungs make breathing hard and may even lead to death.
If you suffer from right-sided congestive heart failure, the right ventricle doesn’t properly pump blood into your body, which may lead to fluid retention in your abdomen and lower body. You may also have both-sided congestive heart failure.
Stages of Congestive Heart Failure
At the early stage of congestive heart failure, you may not experience any symptoms during regular physical activity and at rest. At this stage, you can manage your condition through monitoring, medications, and lifestyle changes.
As the disease progresses, you begin to experience shortness of breath and fatigue during physical activity. You should talk to your doctor if your condition limits normal physical activity.
Severe congestive heart failure usually means that you cannot perform any form of physical activity, with symptoms of CHF present even at rest. While there is no cure for congestive heart failure at this stage, you can still manage your disease to improve the quality of life.
Congestive Heart Failure Symptoms
Early signs of CHF usually involve fatigue, swelling in your feet, ankles, and legs, increased need to urinate, and weight gain. However, in the early stages of congestive heart failure, you probably won’t notice any changes in your health.
As your illness progresses, you may experience cough (that comes from congested lungs), irregular heartbeat, shortness of breath, and wheezing.
Symptoms that indicate severe HCF usually include rapid breathing, chest pain that spreads through the upper body, lack of oxygen in your lungs that causes your skin to turn blue, and fatigue.
Congestive Heart Failure Causes
CHF may occur as a consequence of other health conditions that affect the cardiovascular system, such as hypertension (high blood pressure), coronary artery disease, diabetes, or thyroid disease.
Congestive Heart Failure Treatment
CHF treatment depends on the stage and severity of your condition as well as on your overall health. It is normally treated with medications such as ACE inhibitors, Beta-blockers, antihypertensive medications, antiarrhythmic medications, antipsychotics, and diuretics.
However, if medications are not effective, more invasive treatments may be required. These normally involve angioplasty and surgery.