Heart failure is a long-term condition that generally becomes worse over time. Each year hundreds of thousands of people are diagnosed with this condition. In fact, heart failure is one of the leading causes of hospitalization in people over 65 years of age. This is being such a prevalent condition it is important to know what heart failure is.
What Is Heart Failure?
When looking at heart failure many people may assume that this means your heart stops working. This is not actually the case as heart failure actually means that your heart’s ability to pump blood is weaker than normal. When suffering from heart failure your blood moves through your body at a slower pace which increases the pressure that your heart is actually under.
As a result of slow blood movement, your body is unable to receive the oxygen and nutrients that it needs. To compensate for this your heart will do one of two things. The chambers in your heart could expand in an effort to hold more blood or they could start to thicken and harden. While this will help your body in the short term, eventually the walls of muscle in the heart will weaken and be unable to pump blood efficiently.
When this happens your kidneys will start to respond. The kidneys’ response is to start retaining water and salt. This retained fluid can start to build up in the legs, arms, feet, internal organs. Once this happens the body starts to become congested which is where the term congestive heart failure comes from.
What Causes Heart Failure?
There are many conditions which can cause heart failure. These conditions include:
- Coronary artery disease (CAD) which is a disease that affects the arteries which supply blood to the heart. The arteries will severely narrow or become blocked which actually starves the heart of the nutrients and oxygen that it needs.
- Cardiomyopathy is damage to the heart muscles from causes which related to the arteries and blood flow. These causes could be infections, drug abuse or alcohol abuse.
- A heart attack which occurred when the arteries in the heart becomes blocked. Heart attacks damage the muscles of the heart which results in scarred areas that do not function as they should.
- Condition that overwork the heart such as high blood pressure, diabetes, kidney disease, thyroid disease, valve disease and heart defects.
It is also possible for heart failure to be caused by a number of different diseases or conditions which happen to be present at the same time.