A doctor shares critical symptoms of heart failure

The problem of heart failure is on a rise all over the world and has become a major area of concern. A weakened heart results in inadequate blood supply to other organs leading to symptoms of heart failure.

Advanced heart failure is a magnified form of this fatal condition in which conventional heart therapies and symptom management strategies are no longer applicable. Since heart failure is a progressive condition and gets worse with time, it is important to understand the symptoms and what causes them, to seek medical help at the earliest, thereby preventing it from advancing.

Some of the most common symptoms of advanced heart failures include:

Dyspnea is one of the most common symptoms and leads to shortness of breath during any physical activity, rest or even during sleep. Not only that, it appears suddenly and one faces difficulty in lying flat. As a result, they may require some form of support in the upper body while lying down and may even wake up feeling anxious, tired and restless.

Causes: The reason why this symptom occurs is that the blood starts backing up in the pulmonary veins, which are the vessels responsible for returning blood from the lungs to the heart. It happens when the heart is unable to keep up with the supply of blood and causes fluid to leak into the lungs.

Persistent coughing or wheezing which produces white or pink blood-tinged mucus is another symptom of advanced heart failure.

Causes: This symptom happens when fluid builds up in the lungs.

Tiredness and fatigue can make it very difficult to perform everyday tasks efficiently and make the person feeling exhausted all the time without doing any physical activity.

Causes: This symptom occurs when the heart is unable to pump enough blood to meet the requirements of the body. In such a situation, the body diverts the blood flow away from less vital organs including muscles in the limbs and sends it to other vital organs such as the heart and brain.

Edema refers to the build-up of excess fluid in body tissues and can cause swelling in the limbs such as feet, ankles, legs or abdomen. It can also lead to obesity that further increases the chances of heart failure.

Causes: When the pumping of blood becomes slower than the normal rate, it starts returning to the heart causing fluid to build up in the tissues. As a result, the kidneys are unable to function well and dispose of less sodium and water which is another reason for fluid retention in the tissues.

Nausea and lack of appetite is yet another symptom and can even make one feel sick in the stomach.

Causes: This symptom occurs when the digestive system receives less blood than it requires leading to the problem of indigestion.

Increased heart rate or heart palpitations make one feel like their heart is throbbing faster than the normal rate.

Causes: Since the heart is unable to pump blood properly, it starts beating faster to meet the body’s requirements.

Since heart failure is a progressive disease, it can get worse if left unattended and can lead to advanced heart failure. In such a situation, the heart becomes weaker and treatment gets more complex. Therefore, it is recommended to watch out for these symptoms in the early stages to seek medication and therapies that are not hard on other organs. Ignorance of these symptoms can even lead to fatal consequences in future. Apart from these, it is important to follow a healthy lifestyle and diet.

-By Dr Rajneesh Malhotra, Principal Director – Cardio Thoracic & Vascular Surgery Cardiac Sciences, Cardiac Surgery (CTVS), Max Hospital, Saket

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed by the doctor is his independent professional judgment and we do not take any responsibility for the accuracy of his views. This should not be considered as a substitute for a physician’s advice. Please consult your treating physician for more details.

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