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What Are The Signs Of Heart Failure?

The early signs of heart failure are often very subtle, but it’s dangerous to ignore them. Proper treatment can improve the signs of heart failure and may help some people live longer. Lifestyle changes such as losing weight, exercising, reducing salt in your diet, and managing stress can improve your quality of life. 

Possible Causes of Heart Failure

Heart failure often develops after other conditions have damaged or weakened the heart. However, heart failure can also occur if the heart becomes too stiff. 

Heart failure causes the main pumping chambers of the heart to become stiff and not fill properly between beats. The heart muscle may weaken and become damaged in some people. The ventricles can become too stretched to pump enough blood through the body. The heart cannot keep up with the demands placed on it to pump blood over time.

Any of the following conditions can damage or weaken your heart and can cause heart failure. Some of these can be present without your knowing it:

  • Coronary artery disease and heart attack
  • High blood pressure
  • Faulty heart valves
  • Damage to the heart muscle
  • Inflammation of the heart muscle (myocarditis)
  • A heart problem that you’re born with (congenital heart defect)
  • Abnormal heart rhythms (arrhythmias)
  • Long-term diseases (diabetes, HIV, an overactive or underactive thyroid, or a buildup of iron or protein)

Signs of Heart Failure

Heart failure signs may include:

  • Shortness of breath with activity or when lying down
  • Rapid or irregular heartbeat
  • Reduced ability to exercise
  • Very rapid weight gain from fluid buildup
  • Nausea
  • Lack of appetite
  • Fatigue and weakness
  • Swelling in the legs, ankles, and feet
  • Persistent cough or wheezing with white or pink blood-tinged mucus
  • Swelling of the belly area 
  • Difficulty concentrating or decreased alertness
  • Chest pain if heart failure is caused by a heart attack

See your doctor if you think you might be experiencing signs of heart failure. Call for medical assistance if you have any of the following:

  • Fainting or severe weakness
  • Chest pain
  • Sudden, severe shortness of breath and coughing up white or pink, foamy mucus
  • Rapid or irregular heartbeat associated with shortness of breath, chest pain, or fainting

Treatment for Heart Failure

Chronic diseases such as heart failure require lifelong management. In some cases, however, heart failure can improve with treatment, and the heart may become stronger as a result.

The underlying cause of heart failure can sometimes be treated by doctors. Heart failure may be reversed, for instance, by repairing a heart valve or controlling a fast heart rhythm. In most cases, heart failure is treated with a combination of medicines and sometimes with devices that help the heartbeat. 

Doctors usually treat heart failure with a combination of medications. Depending on your symptoms, you might take one or more medications. The recommended medication can be:

  • Digoxin – this is usually along with other medications. Digoxin belongs to a class of medications called cardiac glycosides. It works by affecting certain minerals inside heart cells. This reduces strain on the heart and helps it maintain a normal, steady, and strong heartbeat. 

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