Heart disease is very common in the United States and can often lead to congestive heart failure or CHF. This condition occurs when the heart fails to function properly and not enough oxygen-enriched blood is pumped throughout the body. It can be caused by many different things including various types of heart disease and stroke. As CHF progresses, the symptoms become much worse and the prognosis more dire. Knowing the warning signs is vital to living a long and happy life.
Causes of Congestive Heart Failure
Congestive heart failure can be caused by many different things including high blood pressure, coronary artery disease and heart disorders such as malformed valves. Sometimes, viral infections can cause the heart muscle to stiffen. Abusing alcohol can also lead to CHF.
Shortness of Breath
Shortness of breath is a fairly common symptom of congestive heart failure at all stages. However, it can worsen severely when the disease is in its advanced stages. You will notice that you have trouble breathing when exerting yourself at first, but then it will likely show up even when you're at rest, especially when lying flat.
Swelling is a common symptom of CHF. The legs and ankles are especially subject to swelling. This is due to the fact that the extremities tend to fill up with fluid in CHF patients. Sometimes, the abdomen can swell as well. Weight gain in general is also indicative of congestive heart failure.
While fatigue is a symptom of all sorts of conditions and ailments, if you have been diagnosed with congestive heart failure, extreme fatigue and feelings of weakness can be a sign of the end-stage disease. If you feel unbearably tired, seek medical attention right away.
Many congestive heart failure patients suffer from a chronic cough. It might be dry, however, more often than not it is a cough that produces mucus. Sometimes, this cough results in bloody mucus. The coughing is caused by the build up of fluid in the lungs.
Less Urine Production
One of the common problems associated with CHF is the build up of fluid in the body. Quite simply, the body no longer eliminates fluids as quickly or as efficiently as before. This can cause a reduction of the amount of urine produced each time you go to the bathroom. This is also the culprit behind the swelling mentioned earlier.
Most people with congestive heart failure have suffered some sort of heart damage in the past whether it's from high blood pressure, a heart attack or a viral infection. This damage leaves the heart weakened and if enough damage is done, you might develop an arrhythmia, or an irregular heartbeat. Unfortunately, many patients with advanced stage CHF end up dying from the heart suddenly stopping due to arrhythmia.