Congestive Heart Failure

Congestive Heart Failure

Congestive Heart Failure Is Deadly

If you start experiencing rapid or irregular heartbeat, reduced ability to exercise, persistent cough or wheezing with white or pink blood-tinged phlegm, swelling (aka edema) in your legs, ankles and feet, increased need to urinate at night, fainting or severe weakness, fatigue and weakness, shortness of breath (aka dyspnea) when you exert yourself or when you lie down, chest pain among other symptoms; see your medical doctor IMMEDIATELY!

Because you might be suffering from Congestive heart failure (CHF); a condition in which the heart’s purpose as a pump to deliver blood rich in oxygen to the body is inadequate. The heart has two atria -right atrium and left atrium- that constitute the upper chambers of the heart, and two ventricles -left ventricle and right ventricle- making the lower chambers of the heart.

Simply put; the heart has two sides. The right side pumps blood to the lungs to receive oxygen and get rid of carbon dioxide (component the body does not need). The left side pumps oxygen-rich blood to the body. Blood flows out of the heart through arteries, which branch out and become smaller and smaller in sizes called capillaries as they go into the tissues. It is in the capillaries that the blood gives up oxygen and nutrient to the tissues, and receives waste in the form of carbon dioxide from the tissues back to the heart and out through the pulmonary vessels and lungs.heart chambers

Congestive heart failure is a progressive disease process in which the heart is no longer able to pump enough blood to meet all of the needs of the body. Chronic heart diseases can weaken the heart muscle over time, making it too weak or stiff to pump blood adequately.

The ventricles are the main pumping chambers of the heart and are the parts of the heart that become damaged in congestive cardiac failure. This means that if the ventricular muscles are stiffened due to some sort of chronic disease, they are unable to fill with enough blood between heart beats. Another probable cause is the weakening of the heart muscles, which causes the ventricles to dilate (aneurysm), decreasing their ability to pump successfully. This inevitably causes blood to congest in some areas of the body.

Let’s concentrate more on coronary artery disease (CAD) because it’s the most common form of heart failure and also the most common cause of congestive heart failure. Particularly so when coronary heart disease kills more than 385,000 people in the United States every year.

This happens when there are increased fat deposits in the coronary arteries. There will be even more adipose tissue deposits if your calorie intake is more than what your body burns out. These fatty deposits narrow the arteries, a process called atherosclerosis.  However, arteries may sometimes narrow suddenly as a result of an arterial spasm (very common in smokers). These Plaques are composed of cholesterol-rich fatty deposits, other proteins, collagen, and excess smooth muscle cells. They usually progress very gradually over a lifetime narrowing and thickening the arteries, impeding blood flow. This process weakens the heart muscle and chronically deprives some areas of the heart of an oxygen-rich blood supply and vital nutrients (aka ischemia). Over time, they can rupture and cause a heart attack. Some soft plaques can also break free causing partial or complete occlusion of blood flow, debilitating the pumping ability of the heart. In many cases, the blood supply to the heart is the lowest amount required to keep the muscle alive, but not sufficient to sustain appropriate performance thereby causing congestive heart failure.

Then there is chronic high blood pressure (hypertension); a condition in which the arteries have persistently elevated blood pressure, which can cause congestive cardiac failure. I’m sure we all can relate to this as it’s virtually become a household name. Hypertension affects more than one in five people; in 2006/07, 22.7% of Canadian adults aged 20 years and older were living with diagnosed hypertension.Whiles approximately 16 million people in the UK have high blood pressure.

Being overweight or obese can cause high blood pressure in a number of ways.  When there is increased weight it takes more strain to move the blood around the body.  When the weight gain is in the abdominal area the risk of high blood pressure is greater because fat around that area is more likely to cause the arteries to become thick and stiff making it excessively firm or feeble to ably propel blood flow over time. This happens in part when the kidneys, being primarily the organ in charge for regulating blood pressure is compressed by fat, simulate demise unless they are fed with a higher blood pressure.

When it becomes difficult to move blood around the body there is an increase in adrenalin and salt retention which further increases blood pressure. Injury to the valves, which keep blood flowing in the appropriate direction through the heart, is another potential cause of heart failure. When the valves are not working properly, this also increases the work load on the heart, which can ultimately cause it to fail. Obesity is associated with sleep apnea and diabetes, which both carry an amplified risk of high blood pressure.

The good news is that when you lose weight -even a small amount- the blood pressure can go down and the blood vessels can lose their stiffness. Additionally, diabetes and sleep apnea can improve. The key is to eat healthily and exercise to prevent the complications of being overweight.

Heart failure may cause other complications in the body such as; kidney damage or failure, damage to the liver and stroke.  Therefore, heart failure is a serious and chronic condition that requires the appropriate medical management to avert it from degenerating to the point that it causes serious damage to the body. Please seek immediate medical attention if there are indications of the afore mentioned symptoms.