What is Heart Failure?

So what is Heart Failure? we would like to know it as Heart Inefficiency not as Heart Failure. This is important and has a considerable psychological effect on Heart Failure patients.

Heart failure is a serious condition but it does not mean your heart is about to stop working. It describes what happens when the heart is having trouble pumping enough blood around the body and usually occurs because the heart muscle has become too weak or stiff to work properly. Heart failure affects about 1,000,000 people in the UK and 6.5 millionpeople in the US. It tends to affect older people but it does not just affect older people, our chairman and trustee Nick was 39 on diagnosis.  It tends to be more common in men than women and can be caused by a number of conditions, such as high blood pressure, heart attack, congenital heart deffects, alchol, recreational drugs and viruses. Symptoms of heart failure can happen quickly and this is known as acute heart failure. More often, the symptoms develop slowly over time, which is known as chronic heart failure. Heart failure can be treated, allowing you to control the effects of the condition and continue to live a normal life.

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Types of Heart Failure

There are two main types of heart failure and the symptoms and effects on your body will depend on which type you have.

  • heart failure due to left ventricular systolic dysfunction (LVSD): when the
    part of the heart that pumps the blood around the body (left ventricle) doesn’t
    work as well as it should
  • heart failure with preserved ejection fraction (HFPEF): when the heart has
    difficulty filling with blood

Symptons of Heart Failure

The main symptoms of heart failure are:

  • breathlessness (dyspnoea) when you’re more active than usual or sometimes
    when you’re resting
  • extreme tiredness and weakness
  • swelling in the legs, ankles and feet (oedema)

The above symptons aren’t necessarily exact precursors to heart failure but if you suffer from any then it is best checking with your Doctor. Ask for a BNP check which will confirm your suitability for an echocardiogram.

Other symptons include:

  • being woken up in the middle of the night gasping for breath (paroxysmal
    nocturnal dyspnoea)
  • a cough that will not go away
  • nausea (feeling sick)
  • lack of appetite
  • weight loss
  • confusion or difficulties in concentrating

and the two commonly confused with each other and Heart Failure!

So what is a Cardiac Arrest?

Cardiac arrest, (also known as cardiopulmonary arrest or circulatory arrest) is the cessation of normal circulation of the blood due to failure of the heart to contract effectively.Medical personnel can refer to an unexpected cardiac arrest as a sudden cardiac arrest or SCA.

A cardiac arrest is different from (but may be caused by) a heart attack, where blood flow to the muscle of the heart is impaired.

Arrested blood circulation prevents delivery of oxygen to the body. Lack of oxygen to the brain causes loss of consciousness, which then results in abnormal or absent breathing. Brain injury is likely if cardiac arrest goes untreated for more than five minutes.For the best chance of survival and neurological recovery, immediate and decisive treatment is imperative.

Cardiac arrest is a medical emergency that, in certain situations, is potentially reversible if treated early. When unexpected cardiac arrest leads to death this is called sudden cardiac death (SCD).The treatment for cardiac arrest is cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) to provide circulatory support, followed by defibrillation if a shockable rhythm is present. If a shockable rhythm is not present after CPR and other interventions, clinical death is inevitable.

and what is a Heart Attack?

Myocardial infarction (MI) or acute myocardial infarction (AMI), commonly known as a heart attack, results from the interruption of blood supply to a part of the heart, causing heart cells to die. This is most commonly due to occlusion (blockage) of a coronary artery following the rupture of a vulnerable atherosclerotic plaque, which is an unstable collection of lipids (cholesterol and fatty acids) and white blood cells (especially macrophages) in the wall of an artery. The resulting ischemia (restriction in blood supply) and ensuing oxygen shortage, if left untreated for a sufficient period of time, can cause damage or death (infarction) of heart muscle tissue (myocardium).


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