Heart disease is the fastest growing cardiovascular disorder in the United States. In fact, it's the number one reason that older people are admitted to hospitals, with an estimated 1.2 million patients admitted annually. Use the links below to answer frequently asked questions about heart failure.
What is Heart Failure?
Heart failure means that your heart is not pumping blood as well as it should. Heart failure begins when the heart muscle has been damaged, which can result from several causes. When the heart muscle is damaged, the heart cannot fill with and empty blood the way it should. So, blood flow through your body is less than it should be, and important organs like the kidneys do not get the blood supply they need.
What Causes Heart Failure?
Conditions such as long-standing high blood pressure, coronary heart disease, heart attacks, inflammation, and infections can weaken your heart. Other possible causes include thyroid problems, diabetes, certain drugs used to treat cancer, or a family history of heart disease.
What are the Symptoms of Heart Failure?
People with heart failure often feel weak and tired, and have difficulty doing everyday tasks such as climbing stairs or grocery shopping. Common signs of heart failure may include:
- feeling more tired than usual
- trouble breathing when laying down
- waking up in the middle of the night to catch your breath
- swelling of the feet or legs
- weight gain or loss
How is Heart Failure Treated?
There are several common treatments for heart failure. Drugs known as diuretics may be prescribed to help eliminate fluid from the body. Other drugs may improve your heart function. These same drugs will likely be used to lower blood pressure, regulate heart rate, and prevent blood clots. You may also be asked to monitor your fluid and salt intake and check your weight on a daily basis. If needed, a device may be implanted to improve your symptoms and treat dangerous heart rhythms that may occur.