What is heart failure? - GO.CARE Blog
What is heart failure?
Author: Chí Hùng
Review Date: August 6, 2018 | Last Modified: January 14, 2019
What is heart failure?

Know the basics

1. What is heart failure?

Heart failure is a term used to describe a heart that cannot keep up with its workload and not pumping blood around the body efficiently.

In people with this health condition, blood moves around the body and through the heart at a slower rate. Because of the inadequate amount of blood, the chambers of the heart may respond by stretching to hold more blood or by becoming stiff and thickened. This may help to keep the blood moving, but the heart muscle will eventually weaken and unable to work effectively. As a result, the kidneys may respond by causing the body to retain fluid and salt. However, the fluid builds up in the body parts and cause congestion.

Heart failure is different from heart attack and cardiac arrest.

This health condition is a common yet very serious condition. It can affect patients at any age. Currently, heart failure has no cure, but it can be managed by reducing your risk factors. Please discuss with your doctor for further information.

2. What are the symptoms of heart failure?

The common symptoms of heart failure are:

  • Shortness of breath during activity or rest;
  • Extreme fatigue;
  • Swelling feet, ankles, stomach or lower back areas.

There may be some symptoms not listed above. If you have any concerns about a symptom, please consult your doctor.

3. When should I see my doctor?

You should contact your doctor when you have any of the following:

  • Increased swelling in you feet, legs, ankles or abdomen;
  • Inability to do daily activities;
  • Coughing at night;
  • Confusion or restlessness;
  • Dehydration;
  • Chest pain;
  • Fast heart rate (over 120/minute while at rest).

If you have any signs or symptoms listed above or have any questions, please consult with your doctor. Everyone’s body acts differently. It is always best to discuss with your doctor what is best for your situation. If heart failure is found early, your treatment may be easier and more effective.

Diagnosis & Treatments

1. How is heart failure diagnosed?

To diagnose heart failure your doctor will first ask you questions about your symptoms and medical history. Your doctor will want to know:

  • If you have any other health conditions such as diabetes, kidney disease, angina (chest pain), high blood pressure, high cholesterol, coronary artery disease, or other heart problems.
  • Whether you have a family history of heart disease or sudden death.
  • If you smoke or use tobacco.
  • Whether you drink alcohol and how much you drink.
  • If you have been treated with chemotherapy and/or radiation.
  • What medications you are taking.

Your doctor will perform a complete physical exam such as blood tests, chest x-ray, electrocardiogram, stress test, etc.

2. How is heart failure treated?

Until now, there is no permanent cure for this health condition. There are treatments that could only control the symptoms and help people live a full and active lives. To help you control your blood pressure and help the pumping action of the heart, doctors may prescribe medications, including:

  • Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors;
  • Angiotensin II receptor blockers;
  • Beta blockers;
  • Water pills;
  • Aldosterone antagonists;
  • Inotropes.

More informations

1. What causes heart failure?

There are many things that can lead to heart failure. Most cases is caused by another disease. Some common causes of heart failure are:

  • Diabetes;
  • Obesity;
  • Smoking;
  • Hypertension (high blood pressure);
  • Depression;
  • Sleep disorder;
  • Alcohol or recreational drugs;
  • Some cancer treatments.

2. What increases my risk for heart failure?

There are many risk factors for heart failure, such as:

  • Coronary heart disease;
  • High blood pressure;
  • Diabetes;
  • Smoking;
  • Eating foods rich in fat, cholesterol and sodium;
  • Obesity.

3. What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage heart failure?

Doctor will also give you advice about making changes to your lifestyle such as:

  • Be active;
  • Try to quit or reduce smoking;
  • Manage stress;
  • Maintain a healthy weight;
  • Eat a healthy diet;
  • Limit cholesterol intake;
  • Control diabetes.

Need further information? Contact GO.CARE manage team to get more details from expert doctors and medical specialists.

GO.CARE does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

When to Call Your Doctor or Nurse About Heart Failure Symptoms. http://my.clevelandclinic.org/services/heart/disorders/heart-failure-what-is/hic_When_to_Call_Your_Doctor_or_Nurse_About_Heart_Failure_Symptoms. Accessed June 12, 2016.

Diagnosis – How Heart Failure is Diagnosed. http://my.clevelandclinic.org/services/heart/disorders/heart-failure-what-is/hic_How_Heart_Failure_is_Diagnosed. Accessed June 12, 2016.

Heart failure. https://www.bhf.org.uk/heart-health/conditions/heart-failure. Accessed June 12, 2016.

8 Lifestyle Changes to Protect Your Heart. http://www.everydayhealth.com/hs/heart-disease-risk/lifestyle-changes-protect-heart/. Accessed June 12, 2016.