Being aware of some simple methods and self-care measures on preventing congestive heart failure is important in order to lead a healthy lifestyle, especially when you are prone to heart diseases or have a history of any.
The best way to deal with the condition of congestive heart failure, or simply known as heart failure, is not to let it set in, in the first place. The meaning of heart failure must not be taken in its literal terms. It does not mean that the heart has stopped, but that the heart has become weaker and less efficient in the work that it is supposed to carry out. The main function of the heart is to pump the oxygen-rich blood to other organs, and tissues of the body.
However, with time, many conditions may make the heart too weak to fill and pump blood. As a result, the blood circulation through the heart and the body becomes slower, and at the same time, it elevates the pressure in the heart. And when the heart becomes inefficient, it fails to provide oxygen and nutrients required by the body for daily functioning. An important aspect of preventing congestive heart failure, is being aware of the various causes that can lead to this condition.
Severe conditions such as congestive heart failure can be kept from occurring by managing factors that make a person vulnerable to develop the condition. Although there can be several measures that can be taken up to inhibit the development of heart failure. The below has listed down some common steps that have benefited most people:
- The biggest preventive measure, if we speak of smokers, is to shun the habit for good. Smoking tobacco is reputed to be the most common reason for the development of coronary heart diseases and heart failure.
- High blood pressure, as already discussed, causes the heart to work harder than it should. And if left untreated, it may easily lead to the condition of heart failure. So another step to prevent congestive heart failure is to keep the blood pressure down. And one reliable method to do this is going for regular blood pressure checkups, and taking the prescribed medications on time. Too much sodium in the food seems to be the most common reason of elevated blood pressure. So cutting down on its intake, would also be a wise step to take towards preventing the condition we are talking about in this article.
- Needless to say, cholesterol is a major offender to blame for, when it comes to diseases of the heart. Unchecked cholesterol levels, over time, may easily cause atherosclerosis (arteries become narrower), heart attacks and strokes, and heart failure may be a likely outcome. A few changes in the diet, and inculcating regular exercises are good enough to lower the cholesterol levels. And if these do not help, then medications may be prescribed for the job.
- Managing a healthy weight is an important factor when it comes to keeping the heart in an optimum condition. As obvious it is, too much body weight puts immense load on the heart. And if not controlled, the heart will keep weakening, eventually reaching a stage where it is no more able to meet with the body’s requirement for blood supply.
- And as already mentioned, realizing the importance of a healthy diet, especially one that is heart-healthy, and leading an active life, are the most beneficial tools to keep heart conditions at bay. They not only help in managing healthy weight, but also reduce the likelihood to develop high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and several other types of illnesses.
- Men must not go for more than 3 to 4 pegs of alcohol a day, and for women, the limit is 2 to 3 pegs. It has been studied that, people who regularly defy these limits, are more likely to damage their heart, and health as a whole. So the bottom line is, either do not drink at all or keep drinking to a moderate level.
Factors Responsible for Congestive Heart Failure
Heart failure is usually a complication of one or more underlying medical disorders. And most of these are related to the heart. Some common conditions that are known to damage or weaken the heart, and eventually result in this condition we are discussing here, are as follows:
- Heart attack
- Hypertension (high blood pressure)
- A disorder of the heart muscle called cardiomyopathy
- Damaged valves of the heart
- A condition that is characterized by the inflammation of the heart muscle; known as myocarditis
- Anatomical or functional defects in the heart at birth
- Chronic problem of abnormal heart rate
Now, all these causes are cardiac in nature, that is, they are associated with the heart. Besides these, there are other non-cardiac conditions which overwork the heart, gradually weakening it, and contributing to heart failure. These may be included as:
- Disorders of the thyroid gland
- Kidney diseases or disorders
- Lung diseases such as emphysema
- Severe anemia
Symptoms and Treatment
The main indicators of the heart failing to pump the required amount of oxygen and nutrients to the body is difficult breathing, or breathlessness. This usually occurs when the person is more active, but the person may also feel it even while resting. Fatigue of extreme degree and weakness, accompanied with swelling of the limbs, and irregular heart rate, are some other classic symptoms of congestive heart failure, to watch out for.
As far as the treatment goes, a complete cure for this condition is unlikely for most people. For them, the goal of the treatment would be to manage symptoms, and help the heart pump properly, and make it stronger. It is important for the patient to work closely with his/her doctor in order to decide on the best combination of the right medications, and sometimes, medical devices to help the heart pump as efficiently as possible. In some cases, doctors may be able to correct the problem. For instance, conditions such as faulty heart valve, or abnormal heart rhythm can be corrected with the help of surgical procedures and other treatment methods.
As said, congestive heart failure for most people, is irreversible. So the only way out is to keep it at bay in the first place. All you have to do is eat healthy, be active, and manage any underlying conditions you have. Keep well!