Heart failure

Heart failure is considered as the whole set of signs and symptoms developed when the heart loses its ability to pump blood around the body efficiently. It undermines the ability to provide different organs with the right amount of oxygen and nutrients. Heart failure usually comes when the heart is too weak to perform its work properly.

Commonly this condition occurs in the left side of the heart, the one which pumps blood in vital organs, such as brain, heart and kidneys. However, heart failure may affect the left or the right side of heart, or both.

Heart failure can occur at every ages and can be caused by different factors. It is often the evident result of a number of problems affecting the heart at the very same time. Most commonly, conditions originating heart failure are high blood pressure, putting extra strain of the heart, and coronary artery disease, where the blood supplied to the heart muscle is not sufficient, causing it to suffer.

Other possible causes worthed to be mentioned are cardiomyopathy (possible inherited heart disease), arrhythmias, birth defects and valves problems. In some cases, also anemia and alcohol abuse may lead to heart failure.

Symptoms may develop suddenly, in the case of acute heart failure, or gradually in months or years, in the case of chronic heart failure. In this last event, they might be controlled without impacting on normal day life activities.

The occurrence of signs and symptoms is related to the side of the heart affected. Indeed, patients might complain about a wide range of problems, not always clinically noticeable. At the initial stage patients are mostly asymptomatic or suffering from slight signs of breathlessness after prolonged stresses. Then, being heart failure a life-long condition, they may get increasingly worse over time, starting with breathlessness at rest, feeling tired all day long, being exhausted even after a slight activity, losing of appetite and complaining about swollen ankles and legs.

Some people may also experience persistent cough, loss of memory and dizziness.

Most of the symptoms might be managed with different types of drug for many years, allowing the patient to conduct a normal life, and slowing down the condition progression. However, treatment might be needed for life and lifestyle changes (such as reducing the consumption of fats in the diet, exercising regularly and quitting smoking) play a key factor in the treatment.


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