What is congestive heart failure?
The heart is the hardest working muscle in your body. It beats over 100,000 times per day and almost 38 million times per year. The main function of the heart is to pump blood that is rich in oxygen and nutrients to the rest of the body. Heart failure is a disease in which the heart isn’t able to pump enough blood to satisfy the needs of the body. Heart failure occurs when the heart muscle becomes weak or if there are any defects in the structure of the heart that prevent it from pumping normally. When the heart fails to pump normally, the kidneys receive less blood and subsequently produce less urine. This causes extra fluid to collect in organs such as the heart, lungs, liver, eyes, and legs. The presence of this extra fluid combined with the decreased ability to supply enough blood to the body causes symptoms of congestive heart failure (CHF).
Congestive heart failure affects over 5 million people in the United States each year. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that about half of those who develop heart failure die within 5 years of diagnosis. Additionally, the cost of managing this disease runs in excess of 32 billion dollars per year. Although CHF is a serious disorder with a high death rate, early diagnosis and prompt treatment may improve the length and quality of a patient’s life.
What are the risk factors or causes for congestive heart failure?
Although congestive heart failure is more common in the elderly population, it may occur at any age. Presence of any of the following disease increases the risk for CHF:
coronary heart disease
high blood pressure
heart muscle disease
heart valve problems
Unhealthy behaviors such as smoking cigarettes, being overweight, not exercising, or eating too much processed or junk food which is high in fats and cholesterol all increase the risk of heart failure.
Next: Congestive Heart Failure Symptoms