Congestive Heart Failure Symptoms

Predominant congestive heart failure symptoms include shortness of breath, chronic fatigue, water retention and bloating, and an irregular heartbeat. While some patients may experience severe symptoms, others experience only mild discomfort; and doctors will have to perform several tests to determine the extent of cardiovascular damage. Some individuals may suffer for years with unexplained weakness, coughing, and swelling at the feet, ankles and abdomen, unaware that their heart is in jeopardy of failing. Individuals who are overweight or aging may assume that shortness of breath and overall fatigue are part and parcel of being obese or adding a few more years; but prolonged cardiac distress, if left untreated, can lead to heart attacks or death.

The heart is a powerful muscle which pumps blood through the lungs via the pulmonary artery, where it is enriched with oxygen and carried to the other parts of the body's tissues, brain, and vital organs via smaller arteries and veins. "For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul" (Leviticus 17:11). When the heart becomes weakened, it ceases to function optimally and fails to carry a sufficient amount of blood and oxygen throughout the lungs and kidneys. Congestive heart failure symptoms, such as fluid buildup in the chest cavity, causes congestion and difficulty breathing upon exertion or at rest, especially in a fully reclined position. As the lungs begin to literally drown in excess fluid, individuals will develop a persistent cough in an effort to open airways and clear the lungs.

Congestive heart failure symptoms also include swelling, or edema, of the lower limbs, especially around the ankles, and abdomen. Fluid and water builds up in swollen tissues and the kidneys are forced to work harder to expel excess fluid. Frequent urination, especially at night, is an indication that the body has taken on excess fluid and water. CHF patients also may experience abdominal bloating, nausea or a loss of appetite. Congested lungs, overworked kidneys, and the urge to urinate disrupt sleep patterns and causes individuals to become irritable and restless during waking hours.

Individuals may also experience congestive heart failure symptoms, such as an irregular heartbeat or fluttering in the middle of the chest. The heart is a powerful organ, but congestion and weakness can force it to work harder to pump blood throughout the body. The harder the organ works, the more rapid the heartbeat, causing undue distress and possible failure. Palpitations and irregular beats, dizziness upon standing, extreme fatigue upon exertion, and a feeling of suffocating are other symptoms of cardiac distress. Individuals may notice that everyday activities, such as climbing a flight of stairs or walking the dog, become increasingly more tiring and difficult. As discomfort increases, individuals may become increasingly sedentary, limiting activity until there is very little mobility.

Individuals who suffer congestive heart failure symptoms should be examined by a cardiologist. Doctors will want to first assess the patient's medical history and determine whether symptoms are indicative of weakened valves, clogged arteries, or fluid build-up. A heart catheterization can detect blockages, which can contribute to congestive heart failure. Blood tests will reveal whether kidneys are working properly and high or low levels of bad cholesterol. A chest x-ray will give cardiologists a clear picture of the organ and whether it is enlarged or surrounded by excess fluid flowing to the lungs. Damage to valves, ventricles, the aorta, and pulmonary arteries will also show up on x-rays. Cardiologists usually order an electrocardiogram, or EKG, to measure electrical impulses generated by the heart's activity; along with a stress test to determine the level of exertion individuals can reach before tiring easily or causing the organ to pump harder. During a stress test, patients are carefully monitored and instructed to walk on a treadmill until the organ begins to experience stress and slight discomfort. Listening to the patient breathe will also determine whether the heartbeat is irregular or whether sounds emitted follow an abnormal pattern indicating congestion.

Patients who are diagnosed with congestive heart failure symptoms may be hospitalized immediately to rid the lungs and kidneys of excess fluid. Diuretics, or water pills, are effective in producing sufficient urine to eliminate fluid build-up. While hospitalized, patients may be monitored and placed on a restrictive salt-free diet with a limited intake of water and other beverages. A prescribed diet may include bland unsweetened tea, light toast, gelatine, and unseasoned baked chicken. The hospital's goal will be to restrict foods which cause water retention and weight gain. Individuals will have to learn how to eat to live, eliminating salt, sodium nitrate or processed meats, high-calorie, highly seasoned meats, and fried foods, which are usually laden with artery-clogging fats and salt. Gradually, individuals will lose excess fluid and pounds on a restricted diet.

Congestive heart failure symptoms may be alleviated by taking blood thinners, such as coumadin; or other medications to reduce cardiac stress and improve the organ's ability to pump blood and oxygen through the body. To relieve nighttime discomfort, doctors may suggest elevating the head with a couple of pillows to keep excess fluid from pooling around the lungs. Moderate exercise, such as walking, cycling, or water aerobics will help restore mobility and gradually increase the heart's ability to handle added stress. Cardiovascular exercises include activities which cause the heart to work a little harder each day to avoid the "attacks" which occur when extreme stress is placed on the organ all at once. Individuals who suffer from congestive heart failure symptoms should check with the doctor before beginning any exercise or diet program.

Congestive Heart Failure Treatments

Congestive heart failure treatments range from dietary changes to complex surgical procedures. Recognizing the characteristics of this disease is just as important as treating diagnosed symptoms. The early signs of cardiac problems can result in complete reversal of the disease, but if complete damage has already happened then the management of cardiac disease is the only option. Preventing disease, infection, and general body deterioration due to environmental factors and stress increase a persons chance of creating a better life despite past symptoms of congestive heart failure. Three key areas in which a person should gain knowledge include: prevention, definition, and treatment.

The definition of this disease is the inability for the heart to deliver oxygen to the whole body. The cardiac system has two in valves and two out valves creating the pathway in which all blood is distributed throughout the body. Impairment of this system decreases the power in which blood flows throughout the body thus opening the door for infection and disease throughout the body. If blood sits too long in one place adequate cleansing does not occur thus creating another risk for infection. Understanding the symptoms of congestive heart failure helps boost the hearts function and sometimes offer antibiotics toward possible infection throughout the body. Depending on the specific situation a doctor may prescribe a variety of medications in order to create the best possibility for optimal health. Discuss any other medicines consumed including herbal remedies and special foods as these may adversely affect the prescribed congestive heart failure treatments. The onset of many cardiac conditions is due to untreated conditions, which weaken the immune system and can damage other systems in the body. Careful record of abnormal feelings throughout life can greatly increase proper diagnosis and early detection of any danger the body endures. In addition, a positive outlook on life as well as proper stress management has shown to drastically affect a persons overall health. "A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones." (Proverbs 17:22)

Prevention of any disease requires an extensive knowledge of how the body works. A person need not be a scientist or doctor, but have the common sense to recognize abnormal characteristics in the body. Symptoms of congestive heart failure include: shortness of breath, unexplained loss of feeling in any part of the body, memory loss, and unexplained headache. Other uncommon symptoms are sometimes more dangerous because they are less frequently acknowledged and lead to greater risk. These characteristics include: fatigue, swelling of the feet or ankles, abdominal pain, and loss of appetite. Though these symptoms could be signs of a variety of other conditions, the most serious result is cardiac disease. Speaking with a family doctor or cardiologist will further determine characteristics found in patients with cardiac problems. Caught early, these problems can be handled respectively with congestive heart failure treatments. In addition to cardiac disease causing further problems, the opposite is true as well. Alcohol abuse, viral infection, and thyroid disorders are just some other diseases that open the door for increased risk of this disease. In addition, if a person finds it more comfortable to sleep in a sitting position, fluid could already be built up in the lungs due to decreased power in the cardiac muscles. Diagnostic tests can detect cardiac problems, but are often skewed due to inconsistency of the cardiac system even in healthy people. Repeated EKG, ECG, and x-rays are just the beginning of a list of tests available in order to better determine the cause and best tools for managing, curing, and even reversing the effects through congestive heart failure treatments.

Certain lifestyle modifications can dramatically effect a person's outcome concerning cardiac health. The elimination of habits such as smoking and alcohol abuse (even if its slight) can make a dramatic difference in a person's overall risk concerning cardiac disease. Careful change to sodium, refined sugar, and fat intake is actually some of the best actions taken in congestive heart failure treatments. Increased intake of water in moderate amounts throughout the day aids in flushing out the toxins that disable all organs from performing at optimal levels. Though salt intake is important to digestion, this should be consumed through natural sources and by sea salt only. The added salts in foods are usually iodinated and should not be consumed. In addition to these natural treatments, surgery is an option in order to get the body back on the right track. After surgery a comprehensive plan toward reducing symptoms of congestive heart disease should be put into place to ensure the best success. To complement any of these efforts in response to genetic disposition, medication may be prescribed in order to give the patient the best change to live a normal life with minimal worry about future problems. In certain circumstances a monitor may be suggested while a person heals from surgery or other life changes toward better heart health. This monitor will help determine invisible symptoms of congestive heart failure that may lead to the diagnosis of other diseases and possibly eliminating the risk of future cardiac problems. Research connects some childhood diseases such as whooping cough and scarlet fever to cardiac disease. It is believed this is due to the permanent damage done to the respiratory system as well as immune and cardiac systems. Family as well as individual history is important to discuss with the doctor before any medication or procedure is conducted.

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