Heart Failure - NJ Weight Loss Doctor, Medical Weight Loss, Bariatric Surgery
Menu Close

Heart Failure

What is heart failure?

Heart failure occurs when blood is not pumped as well as it should by your heart muscle. Blood often backs up and causes fluid to build up in your lungs and legs when your heart doesn’t pump enough blood to meet your needs, causing your legs to swell and turn blue due to lack of oxygenated blood flow. This fluid can make you short of breath in your lungs. Some heart failure types may result in an enlarged heart.

Symptoms of heart failure.

There are many symptoms of heart failure. Some of the symptoms include:

  • Breathlessness, fatigue, and weakness
  • Swelling in your feet, legs and ankles
  • Rapid or irregular heartbeat
  • Reduced exercise ability
  • Persistent coughing or wheezing
  • Increased need for night urination
  • Your abdomen swelling up
  • Very fast gain in weight from fluid retention
  • Nausea and lack of appetite
  • Concentration of difficulties or decreased alertness
  • Sudden, severe shortness of breath and coughing up pink, foamy mucus
  • Chest pain if a heart attack causes your heart failure

If you think you may experience signs or symptoms of heart failure, see your doctor. If you experience any of the following, seek emergency treatment:

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

Although these signs and symptoms may be caused by heart failure, there are several other potential causes, including other life-threatening conditions of the heart and lung. Do not attempt to diagnose yourself. For immediate assistance, call 911 or your local emergency number. Doctors in the emergency room will try to stabilize your condition and determine whether your symptoms are caused by heart failure or anything else.

If you are diagnosed with heart failure or if one of the symptoms suddenly worsens or you develop a new symptom, it can mean your existing heart failure is getting worse. This may also be the case if within a couple of days you gain 5 pounds (2.3 kg) or more. Contact your physician immediately if this applies to you.

Causes of heart failure

  • High blood pressure. Your heart works harder than if you have high blood pressure.
  • Coronary artery disease. Narrowed arteries can restrict the oxygen-rich blood in your heart, which can lead to a weakened heart muscle.
  • Heart attack. A heart attack is a sudden occurrence of a form of coronary disease. Damage to the heart muscle from a heart attack can prevent the heart from pumping as well as it should.
  • Diabetes. Having diabetes increases your risk of high blood pressure and coronary artery disease.
  • Some diabetes medications. In some people, it has been found that the diabetes drugs (rosiglitazone and pioglitazone) increase the risk of heart failure. However, don’t stop taking these medicines on your own. If you are taking them, talk to your doctor about any changes you need to make.
  • Certain medications. Some medicines can cause heart failure or problems with the heart. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs include drugs that may increase the risk of heart problems. Certain anesthesia medicines, antiarrhythmic medicines, or medicines used to treat high blood pressure, cancer, blood conditions, neurological conditions, psychiatric conditions, lung conditions, urological conditions, inflammatory conditions and infections, and other over – the-counter and prescription medicines, may lead to heart failure. Don’t stop taking your medicines without consulting your doctor. If you have medication questions, discuss with your doctor if he or she recommends any changes.
  • Sleep apnea. The inability to breathe properly during nighttime sleep results in low levels of blood oxygen and an increased risk of abnormal heart rhythms. The heart can be weakened by both these issues.
  • Congenital heart defects. Some people are born with structural heart defects that can develop into heart failure.
  • Valvular heart disease. People with valvular heart disease have a higher risk of heart failure.
  • Viruses. A viral infection may have damaged your heart muscle.
  • Alcohol use. Drinking too much alcohol can weaken heart muscle and lead to heart failure.
  • Tobacco use. Using tobacco can increase your risk of heart failure.
  • Obesity. People who are obese have a higher risk of developing heart failure.
  • Irregular heartbeats. These abnormal rhythms, especially if they are very frequent and fast, can weaken the heart muscle and cause heart failure.

How to help prevent heart failure

Reducing your risk factors is the key to preventing heart failure. Many of the risk factors for heart disease, such as high blood pressure and coronary artery disease, can be controlled or eliminated by making changes in your lifestyle along with the help of any medicines needed.

Changes in lifestyle that you can help to avoid heart failure include:

  • Not smoking
  • Controlling certain conditions, such as high blood pressure and diabetes
  • Staying physically active
  • Eating healthy foods
  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Reducing and managing stress

If you have any further questions on hart failure and how to keep a healthy heart please call us today.