Many of us hear “heart failure” and immediately assume this person is ready for hospice care. We need to correct this narrative. It’s just not true and, in fact, heart failure can be managed. We will explain what heart failure actually is and the 8 heart failure warning signs to prevent it from progressing.
What Exactly Is Heart Failure?
Heart failure does not mean your heart has stopped working. Heart failure is a condition where your heart is working harder to pump oxygenated blood to all the body’s organs. If left undiagnosed, it can lead to a compromised state and result in fatal damage.
More than six million Americans are living with heart failure. It is also known as congestive heart failure. When your heart doesn’t pump blood as it should, the blood can back up, and fluid remains in the lungs causing shortness of breath.
Certain conditions like coronary artery disease or high blood pressure gradually make the heart too weak to fill and pump properly.
Heart Failure Signs
It is possible that the very first sign of heart failure is a heart attack or stroke. Usually the symptoms of heart failure appear slowly, but can become chronic.
They include the following:
- Shortness of breath with activity or even when lying down
- Fatigue and weakness
- Swelling of legs, ankles, feet, and abdomen
- Rapid weight gain from fluid build up
- Rapid or irregular heartbeat
- Not able to exercise as you once did
- Nausea and lack of appetite
- Dry cough
How to Manage Heart Failure
The best way to treat and manage heart failure is to prevent and control the conditions that caused it.
Medications, exercise combined with rest, a low sodium diet, and watching fluid consumption all help with its management. Be sure to keep your blood pressure under control and eat a healthy diet. For the most part, heart failure occurs slowly, and the patient, along with their caregiver, must be vigilant in watching any changes in the eight heart failure warning signs.
Unfortunately, it can turn on a dime and flare ups may require a hospital stay. This can also happen due to an infection or a particular medication.
It is essential to keep a watch on all the symptoms and any changes/increases.
Contact New Jersey Cardiology Associates if you are experiencing some of these eight warning signs of heart failure or if any of them are changing.