Many conditions can cause congestive heart failure, including coronary artery disease, past heart attack, high blood pressure or heart valve disease. When you have heart failure, it doesn't mean your heart as stopped working. But your heart is not pumping as well as it should.
How the Cardiovascular System Works:
When you have heart failure, it does not mean your heart has stopped working. It does mean your heart is not pumping as well as it should.
There are two main types of heart failure: systolic and diastolic. Systolic heart failure occurs when the heart pumps with less force. Diastolic heart failure occurs when the heart becomes stiff and can't fill with blood.
Conditions that cause heart failure include:
When your heart is not pumping well, blood can back up in your lungs and force fluid into the breathing spaces. The fluid then builds up, causing congestion in the lungs.
Symptoms of lung congestion may include:
When your heart is not pumping well, blood can back up in your blood vessels and force fluid into your body tissue. The fluid then builds up, causing congestion throughout the body.
Symptoms of fluid buildup include:
Decreased Blood Flow
If your heart is not pumping well, less blood moves through your body and your tissues and organs don't get the oxygen they need.
Your kidneys help rid your body of salt (sodium) and excess water. When your heart is not pumping well, your kidneys do not get the blood they need to do their work. Salt and excess water build up and make your body even more congested.
Changes in Your Heart
When your heart is not pumping well, it tries to make up for its loss of power. Your heart may get bigger so it can hold and pump more blood. Your heart may build more muscle mass to increase its pumping power, and it may beat faster. At first, these changes help your heart work normally. In the end, they only make your heart more tired.
A medical exam and consultation helps your physician diagnose heart failure and develop the best treatment plan for you.
During the exam, your physician may:
Your physician may also recommend medical tests such as:
Your heart failure treatment plan may include medications for heart failure and/or for the conditions that may have weakened your heart in the first place. Be sure to take the medication as prescribed. Call your physician if you have any side effects, but keep taking your medication unless your physician tells you to stop. Your physician also may recommend a lifestyle plan that can help you live with heart failure.