Causes, symptoms and types of congestive heart failureWhat exactly is heart failure?

A common misconception among most people is that heart failure means that the heart has stopped to beat. However, what a heart failure really means is that the heart has a weaker pumping power than normal. This results in the blood flowing at a much slower rate and is accompanied by increased pressure of the heart. The result of this is that the heart is unable to pump nutrients and oxygen to meet all the needs of the body. The heart chambers can respond to this by overstretching and this increases their blood holding capacity or can become thickened and stiff. This in turn helps to ensure that the blood keeps moving but weakening of heart muscle walls in the long run leads to inefficient pumping of blood. The kidneys in turn respond by increasing retention of fluids i.e. water and also salt on the body. Building up of the fluid in ankles, legs, arms, lungs, feet and other organs leads to congestion of the body and the condition is described as congestive heart failure.

Conditions leading to heart failure

There are many conditions that can lead to the damaging of heart muscles including:

  • Heart attack- sudden blockage of the coronary artery leads to a heart attack where the flow of blood stops. This leads to the heart muscle getting damaged and the scarred area functions improperly.
  • Coronary heart disease- this is a disease that affects arteries that supply the heart with oxygen and blood and decreases the blow of blood to heart muscles. Severe narrowing or blocking of the arteries starves the heart of nutrients and oxygen.
  • Cardiomyopathy- this refers to heart muscle damage from other causes rather than blood flow or artery problems like drug or alcohol abuse or infections.
  • Overworking of the heart- conditions that make the heart get overworked have a high likelihood of leading to congestive heart failure. This mostly includes high blood pressure, thyroid disease, valve disease, diabetes, kidney diseases and even heart effects at birth.

Symptoms of heart attack

It is highly likely that you won’t experience any symptoms or signs of heart attack, but there are times when they could be mild or sever. Nevertheless, the common symptoms include congested lungs, fluid and water retention, dizziness, weakness and fatigue and irregular or rapid heartbeats.

Types of heart failure

Heart attack can be of two types. The first one is systolic dysfunction, which results when the heart muscles fail to contract with adequate force and this means that the blood doesn’t have enough oxygen. The second type is diastolic dysfunction which even though the contraction of the heart is quite normal, the ventricles are stiff and don’t relax properly.