The signs and symptoms of heart failure
There are numerous reasons why heart failure occurs, such as high blood pressure or thyroid gland disease. When the body is unable to compensate for the failing heart muscle, less-known symptoms begin to emerge. The charity Healthwise stated abdominal bloating may result from “fluid back-up” in the liver, stomach or intestines. When fluid backs up in the liver, the stomach tends to feel swollen or tender.
If fluid backs up into the stomach, a person may have experience a decreased appetite and suffer from nausea.
The medical term for a build up of fluid in the abdomen is called ascites.
When fluid leaks into the lungs a person may develop a dry cough, or a wet cough with pink, frothy fluid.
Some people may experience wheezing, similar to that caused by asthma.
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Poor blood circulation can lead to less frequent urination, lightheadedness and an inability to think clearly.
When there’s poor blood circulation in the brain a person may experience problems with memory to the ability to understand language.
The affected individual is also more prone to losing consciousness and fainting.
You can also expect the arms, legs, hands and feet of the affected person to feel cold.
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“These symptoms are typically less common because they often result from more severe heart failure,” explained Healthwise.
The British Heart Foundation listed three main symptoms of heart failure, which are:
- Shortness of breath
- Swollen feet, ankles, stomach and lower back area
“You should see your GP immediately if you begin to experience any of these symptoms,” advised the charity.
What causes heart failure?
The most common causes of heart failure are previous heart attacks or high blood pressure.
A heart attack can cause long-term damage to the heart, affecting how well it works.
As for high blood pressure, the extra strain on the heart can tire the life-supporting muscle.
Another cause of heart failure is cardiomyopathy, which is a disease of the heart.
As well as thyroid gland disease, excessive alcohol consumption can also lead to heart failure.
Although there isn’t a cure for heart failure, treatment is available to manage symptoms.
Depending on which grade of heart failure a person has – graded from one to four, with four being the most severe – treatment options vary.
Management of the condition can include medication to improve symptoms and to reduce fluid build-up.
Some people may need a pacemaker to help the heart pump blood around the body, and some may need coronary bypass surgery.
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