Who Gets Congestive Heart Failure And What Are The Risk Factors
An estimated 6.2 million people in the United States have heart failure. Diseases and conditions that increase the risk of developing heart disease or cardiovascular disease also increase the risk of eventually developing congestive heart failure as a complication.
Risk factors include:
- Sedentary lifestyle
Having high levels of certain substances in the body, which can be determined by blood tests, can also increase the risk for and congestive heart failure. These include:
- High cholesterol, which can lead to atherosclerosis
- High C-reactive protein level, which reflects inflammation
- High homocysteine level, which may damage artery walls and increase the risk of developing . Blood clots can cause a and lead to congestive heart failure.
Reducing your risk of congestive heart failure
You can reduce your risk of developing heart disease and congestive heart failure by:
- Eating a heart-healthy diet that is low in saturated fat and trans fats and high in fiber, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables
- Limiting alcohol intake to one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- Participating in a regular exercise program
- Reducing excessive stress
- Seeking regular medical care and prenatal care and following your treatment plan for such conditions as , obesity, hypertension, and diabetes
What Is Mild Congestive Heart Failure
Clinical studies have shown that approximately 50% of patients with heart failure have a relatively normal or slightly reduced heart function. A popular method of evaluating heart function is by calculating an ejection fraction. This is usually done by obtaining an echocardiogram and measuring how much blood is pumped with each contraction divided by the total amount of blood contained in the left ventricle. Some patients with heart failure and normal pump function can have an ejection fraction of greater than 50% or preserved ejection fraction. This is known as diastolic dysfunction, which is a condition in which the heart does not relax normally. Some patients with slightly reduced pump function, also known as mild systolic dysfunction, can have an ejection fraction in the range of 40- 49% or heart failure with mid-range ejection fraction.
When compared to heart failure patients with reduced ejection fraction , patients with preserved or mid-range ejection fraction are predominantly elderly women with more comorbidities such as hypertension, atrial fibrillation, and diabetes type 2.
Heart Disease: 12 Warning Signs That Appear On Your Skin
Warning signs can appear on your skin and nails, which is why your dermatologist may be the first doctor to notice that you have heart disease. If you know what to look for, you can also find warning signs of heart disease on your skin and nails. The following pictures show you what to look for.
Swelling in your feet and lower legsWhat it may be telling you: Your heart isnt working properly.Many diseases of the heart cause fluid to build up in your feet and lower legs. As the fluid builds up, you may see swelling, which can extend as far as the upper legs and groin.Medical name: Edema
Blue or purple color on your skinWhat it may be telling you: You have a blockage in a blood vessel.When youre extremely cold, your skin can turn blue . If an area of your skin is blue when youre warm, thats can be a sign your blood isnt getting enough oxygen. The patient in this photo has a condition known as blue toe syndrome, which happens when one or more blood vessels are blocked.Without treatment, the lack of oxygen can cause the skin and underlying tissue to eventually die.Medical name: Cyanosis
Nails curve downward and the ends of your fingers are swollenWhat it may be telling you: You may have a heart infection, heart disease, or lung problem.For many people, these signs are harmless. That said, if your fingers and nails look like this, its best to find out if you may have a medical condition, such as lung disease or a heart problem.Medical name: Clubbing
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When Should I Get Emergency Care
Go to the ER or call 911 if you have:
- New, unexplained, and severe chest pain that comes with shortness of breath, sweating, nausea, or weakness
- Fast heart rate , especially if you are short of breath
- Shortness of breath that doesn’t get better if you rest
- Sudden weakness, or you can’t move your arms or legs
- Sudden, severe headache
- Fainting spells
The Silent Signs Of Heart Disease
health care organizationsTalk to your doctor if you or a member of your family shows any signs of early heart disease. Dont disregard signs of early heart disease in women, no matter how unlikely they seem. Early detection and treatment can keep small health concerns from turning into major health issues. For additional support and resources, Become a Member of the Family Heart Foundation.
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What Is The Prognosis If You Have Mild Congestive Heart Failure
As the population ages, the prevalence of heart failure with preserved ejection fraction and mid-range ejection fraction increases. In a U.S. study of heart failure hospitalization, patients with preserved or mid-range ejection fraction accounted for more than 40% of all heart failure hospitalization. This is an increase of 10% over the previous decade. Heart failure hospitalizations strongly predict poor prognosis. The readmission rate and mortality within three months post-discharge reach 30% and 10% respectively and are similar to patients with reduced left ventricular ejection fraction .
So there is a lot of variability in the prognosis of patients with mild congestive heart failure. But for the patient who has been admitted to the hospital, this is usually a marker of the severity of the illness and may prompt a physician to be more aggressive with medical therapy.
Swelling And Weight Gain
Your feet, ankles, and abdomen are all areas of the body that can swell. Its possible to have some swelling after a workout or on a very hot day. When swelling occurs, its called edema.
Edema happens in heart failure because your kidneys arent able to properly filter sodium. Your heart then releases chemicals that cause the body to hold onto fluid. You might notice that your clothes or shoes no longer fit right, or that youve gained weight unexpectedly or quickly.
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Surgical Treatments For Congestive Heart Failure
A variety of surgical procedures may be used in the treatment of some cases of congestive heart failure including:
- and stent placement or coronary artery bypass may be an option for people with congestive heart failure who have severely blocked coronary arteries.
- Heart transplant may be the only treatment option in severe cases of congestive heart failure in which medications and lifestyle and dietary changes do not improve heart function.
- Left is a device surgeons connect to the heart to improve heart function. It may be used as a bridge treatment while waiting for a or as a treatment in itself.
- may be used in some cases to control abnormal heart rhythms.
- Valve surgery repair or replacement of damaged heart valves
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Diagnosis Of Congestive Heart Failure
There are several tests to diagnose congestive heart failure starting with a regular physical examination. Your healthcare provider will be able to diagnose any heart failure symptoms by just taking a look at your medical history and current condition.
If your doctor believes you have some symptoms that might be associated with heart failure and you also fall in the high-risk category, then your doctor might suggest you go for an electrocardiogram.
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Signs And Symptoms Of Congestive Heart Failure
Your heart controls the main transportation system in your body your bloodstream which is necessary to carry nutrients and oxygen to all of your cells. For some people, the heart can begin to not work properly, and this is called congestive heart failure.
Many people assume that heart failure is the same thing as a heart attack or that it means that the heart has stopped, but this isnt the case. Congestive heart failure can put you at risk of damage to the heart, liver, and/or kidneys.
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Early Warning Signs Of Congestive Heart Failure
HomeEarly Warning Signs of Congestive Heart Failure
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, impacting 659,000 people every year. Its most common in people over age 65. Congestive heart failure is a life-threatening condition caused by various forms of heart disease and other complications. While the term failure makes it seem like your heart has stopped working, it just means your heart is pumping too slowly to meet your bodys needs. Its a serious condition that you must monitor and manage carefully.
Congestive heart failure becomes progressively worse over time. While its a chronic condition, catching it early gives you a greater chance of living a longer and healthier life. The signs of congestive heart failure range from mild to severe, which is why its important to monitor your health as you age. This guide will explain the early signs of congestive heart failure so you can seek testing and treatment as soon as possible.
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How Does Heart Failure Affect The Body
Heart failure can affect the right side of the heart, the left side of the heart, or both sides.
When the right side of the heart begins to function less efficiently, it is unable to pump much blood forward into the vessels of the lungs. Because of the congestion in the right side of the heart, blood flow begins to back up into the veins. Eventually, swelling is noticed in the feet, ankles, lower legs, eyelids, and abdomen due to fluid retention.
When the left side of the heart fails, it is unable to pump blood forward out to the body efficiently. Blood begins to back up into the vessels in the lungs, and the lungs become stressed. Breathing becomes faster and more difficult. Also, the body does not receive enough blood to meet its needs, resulting in fatigue and poor growth in children.
What Can I Do To Recover After A Heart Attack
Take our quiz to see how much you know about cardiac rehabilitation.
If youve had a heart attack, your heart may be damaged. This could affect your hearts rhythm and its ability to pump blood to the rest of the body. You may also be at risk for another heart attack or conditions such as stroke, kidney disorders, and peripheral arterial disease .
You can lower your chances of having future health problems following a heart attack with these steps:
- Physical activityTalk with your health care team about the things you do each day in your life and work. Your doctor may want you to limit work, travel, or sexual activity for some time after a heart attack.
- Lifestyle changesEating a healthier diet, increasing physical activity, quitting smoking, and managing stressin addition to taking prescribed medicinescan help improve your heart health and quality of life. Ask your health care team about attending a program called cardiac rehabilitation to help you make these lifestyle changes.
- Cardiac rehabilitationCardiac rehabilitation is an important program for anyone recovering from a heart attack, heart failure, or other heart problem that required surgery or medical care. Cardiac rehab is a supervised program that includes
- Physical activity
- Education about healthy living, including healthy eating, taking medicine as prescribed, and ways to help you quit smoking
- Counseling to find ways to relieve stress and improve mental health
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Treating Congestive Heart Failure
If youre wondering if congestive heart failure is reversible, the answer is yes. Practicing mindful living can improve heart failure and lead to better heart efficiency. If youre a senior whos been diagnosed with stage A or B CHF, you will need to monitor and manage your blood pressure and cholesterol to prevent further cardiovascular damage. You wont show symptoms at stage A, so you can continue to maintain an active lifestyle. Becoming and staying physically active , quitting smoking, and lowering or discontinuing your alcohol consumption can also help slow the progress of CHF. Stage B may require you to be more proactive with routine checkups and reassessing your physical activities. You may be more limited to what you can do physically but working with your physician to find safe exercise and activity options can make your life more comfortable.
If youre in stage C or D of your CHF diagnosis, you may have to consider surgical treatments and other medical procedures. An implantable cardioverter defibrillator, coronary artery bypass surgery, and certain cardiac therapies are all treatments people have had success with in the past. Catching CHF early on means you can avoid any drastic surgeries or procedures and learn to simply live a healthier life as you age.
What Is The Outlook For People With Heart Failure
With the right care, heart failure may not stop you from doing the things you enjoy. Your prognosis or outlook for the future will depend on how well your heart muscle is functioning, your symptoms, and how well you respond to and follow your treatment plan.
Everyone with a long-term illness, such as heart failure, should discuss their desires for extended medical care with their doctor and family. An “advance directive” or “living will” is one way to let everyone know your wishes. A living will expresses your desires about the use of medical treatments to prolong your life. This document is prepared while you are fully competent in case you are unable to make these decisions at a later time.
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Shortness Of Breath While Lying Flat And With Exertion
Shortness of breath while lying flat. People who have left heart failure may experience shortness of breath when lying flat . The person will start using two or three pillows to prop themselves up while in bed so that they can breathe easier. If the shortness of breath is more severe, the person may begin sleeping in a chair or recliner.
Shortness of breath with exertion. Shortness of breath with exertion is referred to as dyspnea on exertion. Dyspnea on exertion occurs because the lungs cannot supply enough oxygen and the heart cannot adequately pump oxygen-rich blood to the body. Initially, the shortness of breath may occur when walking long distances or up flights of stairs, but as the heart failure progresses, less activity may produce more symptoms.
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You Feel Dizzy Or Lightheaded
A lot of things can make you lose your balance or feel faint for a moment. Maybe you didnât have enough to eat or drink, or you stood up too fast.
But if you suddenly feel unsteady and you also have chest discomfort or shortness of breath, call a doctor right away.
It could mean your blood pressure has dropped because your heart isnt able to pump the way it should, Bufalino says.
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What Are Heart Failure Symptoms
If you have heart failure, you may not have any symptoms, or the symptoms may range from mild to severe. Symptoms can be constant or can come and go. Heart failure symptoms are related to the changes that occur to your heart and body, and the severity depends on how weak your heart is. The symptoms can include:
- Congested lungs. A weak heart causes fluid to back up in the lungs. This can cause shortness of breath with exercise or difficulty breathing at rest or when lying flat in bed. Lung congestion can also cause a dry, hacking cough or wheezing.
- Fluid and water retention. A weak heart pumps less blood to your kidneys and causes fluid and water retention, resulting in swollen ankles, legs, and abdomen and weight gain. This can also cause an increased need to urinate during the night as your body attempts to get rid of this excess fluid. Bloating in your stomach may cause a loss of appetite or nausea.
- Dizziness, fatigue, andweakness. Less blood to your major organs and muscles makes you feel tired and weak. Less blood to the brain can cause dizziness or confusion.
- Rapid or irregular heartbeats. The heart beats faster to pump enough blood to the body. This can cause a fast or irregular heartbeat. Irregular heartbeats also can become more common as the heart weakens.
Does Heart Failure Show Up On Ecg
An electrocardiogram is often abnormal in patients with heart failure, although up to 10% of patients may have a normal ECG. Natriuretic peptides are a useful biomarker for heart failure and a negative result can rule out the diagnosis. This can be helpful in determining who should be referred for echocardiogram.
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How Is Congestive Heart Failure Diagnosed
Early symptoms of congestive heart failure are often mistaken by patients for other medical problems. Physicians diagnose congestive heart failure with the aid of images and other tests. These include chest x rays, electrocardiogram, blood tests, echocardiogram, stress tests, MRIs, and cardiac catheterization.
When To Get Medical Advice
See your GP if you experience persistent or gradually worsening symptoms of heart failure.
The symptoms can be caused by other, less serious conditions, so it’s a good idea to get them checked out.
Call 999 for an ambulance or go to your nearest accident and emergency department as soon as possible if you have sudden or very severe symptoms.
This is a medical emergency that may require immediate treatment in hospital.
Page last reviewed: 19 May 2022 Next review due: 19 May 2025
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