When your heart isn’t working as efficiently as it should, you could be suffering from a condition known as congestive heart failure (CHF).
CHF symptoms indicate that there isn’t enough blood supplying your body with the oxygen and nutrients it needs.
Men have a higher risk of developing CHF than women, and statistics show that people of African descent are more at risk than those with a European heritage.
What are the types of CHF?
There are two basic types of CHF:
This type occurs when the left ventricle can’t pump out enough blood to satisfy the needs of the body.
This type occurs when the left ventricle can’t accept the blood coming in from the left atrium.
It’s not usual for people to have both types at the same time.
What Causes Congestive Heart Failure?
Congestive heart failure usually develops as a result of other health conditions:
- Coronary artery disease – the arteries became too narrow to supply adequate supplies of blood to the heart
- High Blood Pressure – weakens the heart over time because the heart is forced to work harder. Controlling high blood pressure can reduce the risk of developing CHF
- Heart attack – a heart attack damages the muscles in the heart, making it more susceptible to CHF
- Arrhythmias – abnormal heart rhythms
- Heart valve disease or damage
Congestive heart failure can also be caused by smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, lack of exercise, and obesity.
You could live with this condition for years before any congestive heart failure symptoms appear. This is because the heart weakens gradually over time, trying to compensate for not being able to pump efficiently.
It may compensate by:
- Enlarging to create a larger pump
- Building more muscle tissue so it can pump harder
- Beating more often to pump out more blood – increased heart rate
Common Symptoms Of CHF
The following are the most common symptoms of congestive heart failure:
- Trouble breathing during the night, or when at rest
- Constant coughing and wheezing
- Shortness of breath
- Swollen legs, ankles, and feet
- Extreme fatigue or weakness
You could also experience:
- Loss of appetite, bloating, or abdominal pain
- Fluid retention in the abdomen
- Frequent urination, especially during the night
- Bluish coloring around the mouth
- Unusually cold hands and feet
- Inability to concentrate
Not everyone can prevent CHF because the cause may be hereditary or a birth defect. However, most cases are preventable.
The best way to prevent or reverse CHF is to live a healthy lifestyle, which includes eating food good for the heart, exercising regularly, and avoiding common triggers such as smoking, drinking, and being overweight.
You should also control cholesterol levels, blood sugar levels, and blood pressure.
Keeping A CHF Journal
If you experience any congestive heart failure symptoms, you should start a personal journal.
Keep track of what you eat, when you eat, and how you feel after eating
- Do certain foods make you feel better or worse?
- Are you eating foods high in cholesterol?
- Are you eating enough fresh fruits and vegetables?
- Are your meals balanced with all four food groups?
- Are you snacking between meals? Snacking between meals is a good thing if your snacks are heart-healthy. Empty calories aren’t doing your body or your heart any good.
Keep track of your activity
- Do you get tired quicker than usual?
- Are your activities limited?
- Do you feel tired and out of breath, even while at rest or lying down?
Keep an eye on your body
- Is there any unusual swelling?
- Have you suddenly gained weight – more than five pounds in a week?