What is heart failure?
A chronic condition where the heart is unable to pump enough blood to the body or is unable to get filled with blood.
How does the heart work?
The heart is a muscle with four cavities and four valves that pumps blood to the whole body.
Two cavities on the right side:
- A- Receive blood from the organs and tissues
- B- Pump the blood to the lungs
Two cavities on the left side:
- C- Receive blood filled with oxygen from the lungs
- D- Send that blood to the whole body via the aorta
What is the ejection fraction?
The ejection fraction is the percentage of blood which is ejected from the left-sided cavities for the heart at each heart beat. It is normally 55% or more.
- Heart failure is possible with a normal ejection fraction.
- The ejection fraction percentage does not necessarily reflect the severity of heart failure symptoms.
Do you show any signs of heart failure?
Heart failure is a chronic condition, but early diagnosis, lifestyle changes and appropriate drug treatments can help you lead a normal and active life, stay out of hospital and live longer. If you show any signs of heart failure and are concerned for your health, talk to your doctor about it.
1. Shortness of breath
Heart failure can cause fluids in your body to collect in your lungs, so you feel short of breath during daily activities.
2. Shortness of breath when lying down
Lying flat may also make you feel short of breath, so that you need to sleep sitting up or with several pillows.
3. Fatigue and weakness
Because there is less oxygen in the blood with heart failure, your muscles and tissues lack energy. This can make you feel tired very easily.
4. Swelling in the ankles, legs, abdomen or base of spine
As fluid in the body builds up in these areas, clothes or shoes may feel uncomfortable and tighter.
5. Sudden weight increase
Worsening heart failure may cause a weight gain of over 2.5 kg (about 5 lbs) in one week due to fluid build-up.
6. Loss or change of appetite
A build-up of fluid around the belly can interfere with digestion and cause a loss of appetite or nausea when eating.
7. Increased urination at night
When you lie down in bed at night, the fluid that has built up in your legs during the day can move back into your bloodstream and is taken to your kidneys to be eliminated as waste urine.
8. Cough that lasts longer than a week
This is your body’s natural response to trying to clear the fluids that potentially accumulated in your lungs due to heart failure.
9. Unable to do activities you used to do
The signs of heart failure can make your normal activities difficult or even impossible; this can be a good indicator that you should talk to your doctor.
Talk to your doctor about your signs
It is important to take the time to discuss with your doctor about the signs you observed and if there are changes. This discussion is a key step in evaluating if your current care is the best treatment for you. Use the list above to help you describe your condition to your doctor.
There are new treatment options available. Talk to your doctor to learn more about them.