What are the symptoms of congestive heart failure?

Heart failure is a condition in which the heart doesn’t pump as well as it should. Although the term heart failure (also called congestive heart failure) sounds like the heart has stopped working, it’s not. It’s still pumping, just not as efficiently. As a result, less blood flows to the body, and fluid backs up (congestion) into the lungs, liver, abdomen, and lower extremities.

According to the American Heart Association (AHA), heart failure is a serious condition that is often the terminal stage or end result of many cardiovascular diseases. While there is no cure for heart failure, medication and healthy lifestyle changes can help manage the condition and allow people to maintain a good quality of life.

Signs and symptoms of congestive heart failure

Congestive heart failure
Congestive heart failure

During heart failure, the body tries to compensate for the reduction in blood flow by:

1. Enlargement of the ventricles

In this way, the heart muscle stretches and tries to contract more strongly to pump more blood. At first, this may help the heart work more efficiently, but it will eventually cause the heart to work inefficiently and the body to retain fluid, leading to congestion in the lungs.

2. Develop More Muscle Mass

This is because the heart’s contractile cells grow larger, initially allowing the heart to pump more forcefully.

3. Speed ​​up pumping

This is to increase the heart’s output.

4. Divert blood

This means drawing blood from other tissues and organs, such as the kidneys, heart, and brain.

These compensations may temporarily mask heart failure, but eventually heart failure worsens and people begin to experience symptoms. Symptoms of heart failure can seem similar to those of normal aging and can be easily missed. This may explain why it takes years for some people to realize they have heart failure.

Heart failure has a range of symptoms, not just one. To help identify the signs of heart failure, the Heart Failure Association of America developed the acronym FACES to use as a guide:

F: Fatigue

A: Limited movement

C: Chest congestion

E: Edema or swelling of the ankle

S: shortness of breath

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