Heart failure means that your heart muscle does not pump as much blood as your body needs. Failure does not mean that your heart has stopped. It means that your heart is not pumping as well as it should.
Your body has an amazing ability to make up for heart failure. It may do such a good job that you don't know you have a disease. But at some point, your heart and body will no longer be able to keep up. Then fluid starts to build up in your lungs and other parts of your body.
Heart failure is a lifelong (chronic) disease.
Treatment may be able to slow the disease and help you feel better. But heart failure tends to get worse over time. Despite this, there are many steps you can take to feel better and stay healthy longer.
Early on, your symptoms may not be too bad. As heart failure gets worse, symptoms typically get worse, and you may need to limit your activities. Heart failure can also get worse suddenly. If this happens, you need emergency care. Then, after treatment, your symptoms may go back to being stable (which means they stay the same) for a long time.
Heart failure can lead to other health problems, such as heart rhythm problems. Over time, your treatment options may change, especially as your symptoms get worse.
As heart failure gets worse, hospice palliative care can help improve the quality of your life. You can do advance care planning to decide what kind of care you want at the end of your life.
Symptoms of heart failure start to happen when your heart can't pump enough blood to the rest of your body.
In the early stages of heart failure, you may:
As heart failure gets worse, fluid starts to build up in your lungs and other parts of your body. This may cause you to:
There are many steps you can take to feel better and stay healthy longer. These steps are an important part of treatment. They can help you stay active and enjoy life.
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.
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Current as of: November 28, 2016
Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
& Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine & Martin J. Gabica, MD - Family Medicine & E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & Stephen Fort, MD, MRCP, FRCPC - Interventional Cardiology
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