Symptomatic Congestive Heart Failure
Congestive heart failure (CHF) is a chronic condition which occurs when the heart is unable to pump enough blood to meet the body's needs. CHF typically results from conditions that damage the heart muscle, leaving it unable to pump with as much force as it once did. In some cases, a pre-existing condition can progress to CHF, in other cases, damage to the heart can occur suddenly, such as due to a heart attack or a viral infection.
The two types of heart failure are Symptomatic Congestive Heart Failure (SymCHF) and Asymptomatic Congestive Heart Failure (AsymCHF). Symptomatic Congestive Heart Failure occurs when there are symptoms—such as shortness of breath or swelling—that indicate reduced heart function. Asymptomatic Congestive Heart Failure is diagnosed when circumstances—such as medically-ordered tests—suggest that the heart’s function is reduced even if there are no outward symptoms present.
It is believed that approximately six million people in the United States suffer from Congestive Heart Failure, with half of those cases being classified as symptomatic. People suffering from Symptomatic Congestive Heart Failure often experience a number of the following symptoms:
- Shortness of breath or difficulty catching your breath
- Extreme fatigue or exhaustion
- Swelling in the feet, ankles and legs
- Wheezing or persistent coughing
- Rapid or irregular heartbeat
- Difficulty exercising or reduced ability to exercise
- Pressure or fullness in the chest
- Lack of appetite
- Fainting spells or dizziness
- Weight gain due to fluid accumulation
The most common cause for symptomatic congestive heart failure is coronary artery disease, which occurs when the arteries that supply the heart with oxygen and nutrients become blocked or narrowed. Other causes include high blood pressure, valve disease, thyroid disorders, cardiomyopathy (enlarged or weakened heart muscle), and heart infections.
Symptomatic Congestive Heart Failure is a serious and potentially life-threatening condition, and it is extremely important that those experiencing these symptoms contact their healthcare providers immediately. The earlier CHF is diagnosed and treated, the better the chances of a successful recovery.