Heart failure, sometimes known as congestive heart failure, occurs when your heart muscle doesn’t pump blood as well as it should. certain conditions, such as narrowed arteries in your heart (coronary artery disease) or high blood pressure, gradually leave your heart too weak or stiff to fill and pump efficiently.
Not all conditions that lead to heart failure can be reversed, but treatments can improve the signs and symptoms of heart failure and help you live longer. Lifestyle changes – such as exercising, reducing sodium in your diet, managing stress and losing weight – can improve your quality of life.
Heart failure signs & symptoms may include:
- Shortness of breath (dyspnea) when you exert yourself or when you lie down
- Fatigue & weakness
- Swelling (edema) in your legs, ankles, & feet
- Rapid or irregular heartbeat
- Reduced ability to exercise
- Persistent cough or wheezing with white or pink blood-tinged phlegm
- Increased need to urinate at night
- Swelling of your abdomen (ascites)
- Very rapid weight gain from fluid retention
- Lack of appetite & nausea
- Difficulty concentrating or decreased alertness
- Sudden, severe shortness of breath & coughing up pink, foamy mucus
- Chest pain if your heart failure is caused by a heart attach
Lifestyle changes you can make to help prevent heart failure include:
- Not smoking
- Controlling certain conditions, such as high blood pressure, obesity, & diabetes
- Staying physically active
- Eating healthy foods
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- Reducing & managing stress
You may need to take two or more medications to treat heart failure. Your doctor may prescribe other heart medications as well – such as nitrates for chest pain, a statin to lower cholesterol or blood-thinning medications to help prevent blood clots – along with heart failure medications. Your doctor may need to adjust your doses frequently, especially when you’ve just started a new medication or when your condition is worsening.