Heart failure is a common medical condition that requires attention and close follow up with your doctor. The heart is the engine of our bodies; it keeps us alive by pushing blood where it is needed. If our heart is damaged, it can lose its ability to pump blood forward. When this happens, other parts of the body like the kidneys and the brain will notice a drop in blood pressure. Because the body does not work well with low blood pressure, these other organs try to raise the blood pressure by increasing the amount of water inside the body. This makes sense in a situation where the low blood pressure is temporary.
Abnormal increase in their weight
Water accumulating in the body
swollen, tense and heavy legs
A growing belly
The veins in the neck can become
swollen and more visible
Shortness of breath occurs,
first with walking
and eventually even at rest
Heart rate beating fast all the time
even while doing little
Blood pressure that was well controlled
now is high all the time
To understand this better, think back to the time of the caveman. Imagine a caveman hunting for food. If an accident happens and he becomes injured and loses a lot of blood, this would cause the blood pressure to drop. The kidneys and brain would kick into action and increase the amount of water inside his body. This increase in water would help to raise the blood pressure and keep the caveman alive until he recovered from his injuries. When the heart engine fails, low blood pressure is more than just temporary. This leads to an abnormal accumulation of water that continues over time. Eventually, this excess water becomes a problem
In addition to these a person may notice that laying flat in bed will become very difficult as it will cause shortness of breath, a symptoms doctors call “orthopnea”; the person may need 3 or 4 pillows to be able to sleep. Also they may find themselves waking up in the middle of the night feeling like they can’t breathe. The combination of these symptoms should alert a person that has never had them before that he or she might have heart failure. For patients who already know they have a weak heart, these symptoms should alert them to seek medical attention.
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