Heart failure is a chronic medical condition in which the heart cannot adequately pump blood. While it can occur at any age, heart failure is the leading cause of hospitalizations in people over age 65.
As a major health problem in the US, it’s estimated that heart failure affects about 5.7 million Americans. Every year, more than 500,000 new cases are diagnosed.
Heart failure can occur when certain conditions weaken the heart over time. Controlling conditions that may cause heart failure (such as coronary artery disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, or obesity) is the most effective way to prevent heart failure.
There are various types of heart failure…
Left-sided heart failure (HF-rEF) is the most common type of heart failure and occurs when the left ventricle doesn’t pump blood efficiently. The left ventricle of the heart is responsible for pumping oxygen-rich blood to the rest of the body.
Right-sided heart failure (HF-pEF) is usually triggered by the existence of left-sided heart failure but can also be caused by other conditions such as lung disease. This type of heart failure occurs when the right ventricle doesn’t pump blood efficiently. The right ventricle of the heart is responsible for pumping blood to the lungs in order to collect oxygen.
Diastolic heart failure happens when the heart muscle becomes stiffer than normal. This form of heart failure is more common in women than men and can occur on either side of the heart (left or right.)
Systolic heart failure happens when the heart muscle loses its ability to contract. This form of heart failure is more common in men than women and can occur on either side of the heart (left or right.)
Common signs and symptoms of heart failure…
- Heart palpitations
- Rapid or irregular pulse
- Shortness of breath
- Persistent, dry or hacking cough
- Loss of appetite
- Sudden unexplained weight gain
- Swelling of the leg(s), ankle(s), and/or abdomen
- Dizziness, confusion, or difficulty concentrating
While heart failure is not reversible, there are treatments available that can improve the symptoms and help you live longer. If you believe you or a loved one is suffering from heart failure, it is best to see a professional for a medical diagnosis as soon as possible.