CHF is usually chronic and may get worse from infection or physical stress.
Causes of CHF include: coronary artery disease, past heart attack, high blood pressure, heart valve disease, cardiomyopathy, congenital heart defects, endocarditis and/or myocarditis (infections), arrhythmias, emphysema, severe anemia, hyperthyroidism, hypothyroidism.
When blood backs up in other areas of the body it produces congestion in the lungs, liver, gastrointestinal tract, arms and legs. The organs' loss of oxygen and nutrition causes damage and reduces their ability to work effectively.
- Swollen legs, feet, ankles or abdomen
- Difficulty breathing/shortness of breath
- Weight gain
- Irregular or rapid pulse
- Difficulty sleeping
- Loss of appetite, indigestion
- Decreased alertness or concentration
- Decreased urine production
- Nausea and vomiting
- Need to urinate at night
Some patients have no symptoms, or symptoms that may develop only with the following conditions: arrhythmias, anemia, hyperthyroidism, infections with high fever, kidney disease.
Typical treatments include medication and the treatment of a specific disorder that's causing your CHF, such as high blood pressure or a heart muscle abnormality.
Additional treatment options include drugs (such as angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors, beta blockers, digitalis, diuretics and vasodilators), pacemakers and surgery.
Leading a healthy lifestyle is the best way to help prevent CHF:
- Limit salt
- Don't smoke
- Exercise (according to your doctor's instructions)
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Get enough rest
Possible complications from CHF include pulmonary edema, heart attack, total heart failure (circulatory collapse) and irregular heart rhythms.
CHF can also be deadly. If you experience any CHF symptoms, especially severe crushing chest pain, fainting, or rapid and irregular heartbeat, call 911 immediately. Every second counts in saving your heart and your life.
For more information visit the National Library of Medicine and the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute or go to HealthKey.com's Heart Health page.