Heart failure is a medical condition characterized by the heart’s inability to pump enough blood to meet the body’s needs. It can result from various underlying conditions that weaken or damage the heart, such as coronary artery disease, high blood pressure, heart attack, cardiomyopathy, valvular heart disease, or congenital heart defects.
Symptoms of heart failure can include:
- Shortness of breath, especially during physical exertion or when lying down.
- Fatigue and weakness.
- Swelling in the legs, ankles, feet, or abdomen.
- Rapid or irregular heartbeat.
- Persistent coughing or wheezing, sometimes with pink or bloody phlegm.
- Reduced ability to exercise.
- Increased need to urinate at night.
- Sudden weight gain due to fluid retention.
Treatment for heart failure aims to manage symptoms, improve heart function, and prevent further damage to the heart. It often involves a combination of lifestyle changes, medications, and in some cases, procedures or surgery. Lifestyle modifications may include adopting a heart-healthy diet, maintaining a healthy weight, limiting alcohol and sodium intake, quitting smoking, and exercising regularly. Medications commonly prescribed for heart failure include ACE inhibitors, beta-blockers, diuretics, and aldosterone antagonists. In some cases, devices like pacemakers or implantable cardioverter-defibrillators (ICDs) may be recommended, and in severe cases, heart transplant may be considered.
It’s important for individuals with heart failure to work closely with their healthcare team to manage their condition effectively and improve their quality of life. Regular medical follow-ups, adherence to prescribed treatments, and self-care measures are crucial aspects of managing heart failure.