What Is Heart Failure?
Heart failure is also known as “weakened heart.” It does not mean that your heart has stopped, but rather that your heart is not able to pump enough blood to all parts of your body.
- Your heart is a muscle that pumps blood. Blood carries oxygen to your cells. When your heart does not pump enough blood, your body doesn’t get enough oxygen
- Because you are not getting enough oxygen, you may feel fatigue. Also, because your heart is not pumping strongly enough, blood may begin to back up in your lungs. This may also cause a build-up of fluid, causing your ankles, feet and legs to swell
- Heart failure occurs when the heart muscle has been damaged, often by conditions such as high blood pressure or heart attack
The Causes of Heart Failure
Heart failure occurs when the heart muscle has been damaged, often by disease. It usually progresses slowly.
The causes of heart failure include:
- High blood pressure
- Heart attack (i.e. coronary artery disease)
Heart Failure vs. Heart Attack
Heart failure is a serious heart condition that gradually worsens. Over time, your heart grows weaker and pumps less blood to your body. One of the causes of heart failure is a heart attack that has damaged the heart muscle and reduced how well it works.
How do you know if you suffer from heart failure? The American Heart Association has listed the following as signs of heart failure:
- Shortness of breath not related to exercise or exertion
- Swelling or weight gain
- Persistent coughing
- Lack of appetite, nausea
- Confusion, disorientation
Women and Heart Failure
Heart problems are often regarded as a “men’s disease.” But in fact, more women than men have heart failure. It is important for women to take heart failure seriously and to see their doctor if they experience any of the related symptoms.