Cardiac failure, often known as congestive heart failure (CHF), results from the heart failing to pump enough blood throughout the body to sustain bodily functions. This is usually the result of the heart being too weak or stiff to function properly, and can be caused by several factors such as high blood pressure, collapsed or blocked arteries, or fluid backup within the body. Although the complications that lead to cardiac failure are not normally reversible, there are certain treatment options that can slow the process and prevent cardiac failure and increase the strength of the heart.
There are certain risk factors that can be identified that signal the threat of cardiac failure. These include high blood pressure, diabetes, previous heart attacks, sleep apnea, alcohol abuse, or any other factor that could damage the heart. These factors increase the likelihood of cardiac failure because they negatively impact the heart’s ability to pump blood throughout the body.
Cardiac failure can be a chronic or an acute condition, meaning the symptoms may appear gradually or suddenly. Some signals of chronic cardiac failure to look out for include shortness of breath, fatigue, swelling of the ankles, feet, or legs, or lack of appetite. Acute cardiac failure is often signaled by rapid heartbeat, sudden fluid buildup, chest pain, or severe shortness of breath. If any of these signs occur, seek help from a physician immediately.
Although it is possible to treat cardiac failure by addressing a secondary cause, such as high blood pressure or incorrect palpitations, often cardiac failure requires lifelong treatment. There are a variety of treatment options available, including medications or surgery. These treatments should be coupled with lifestyle changes to include a more balanced, healthy diet and regular exercise. Weight loss is also a great way to avoid continued heart problems by reducing the stress on the heart. Many people choose to take medications to relieve chest pain and to lower cholesterol levels to prevent blood clots. Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors are also commonly prescribed to help open blood vessels for easy blood flow through the body. For more serious cases of cardiac failure, coronary bypass surgery or even a heart transplant may be necessary if medications are not successful.