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Heart palpitations, shortness of breath while going up the stairs (exercise intolerance), shortness of breath and coughing when lying down, waking up in the middle of the night with feeling of suffocation, swelling of the uncles and feet are common symptoms of heart failure.

Heart failure is a serious condition due to failing of the heart to pump enough blood around the body. It does not mean that your heart stopped or about to stop.

It means the heart became weaker and the amount blood delivered to the body organs is less than optimal to meet the oxygen and nutrient needs of the body.

The failing heart is not able to pump all the blood that arrived to be pumped as a result the remaining blood builds up in the vessels behind the heart waiting to be pumped. The blood can build up in the lung arteries resulting in congested lungs. Fluid in the lungs can cause shortness of breath also in more advanced stages cause shortness of breath at rest or when lying flat in bed. In other cases (right heart failure) the blood accumulates in lower extremity arteries causing ankle swelling.

Heart failure is caused by many conditions:

Coronary artery disease

This is the most common cause of heart failure a disease of the arteries that supply blood (food and oxygen) to the heart, If these arteries become blocked or narrowed less blood (food and oxygen) will be delivered to the heart, the heart will starve and become weaker. The best way to prevent this condition from developing into heart failure is to treat it early (often with a heart catheter) and follow up regularly with your cardiologist.

Heart attack

A sudden blockage of a coronary artery causing the flow of blood to the heart muscle to stop and if not treated within a few hours the heart muscle will be permanently damaged resulting in a scarred area that does not pump blood. As a result the heart becomes weaker pumping less and less blood as the scarred area grows with subsequent events.

The best way to prevent this condition from developing into heart failure is to try to save as much heart tissue as possible, this require a prompt visit to the emergency department and a rapid use of drugs known as thromolytics or heart catheter.

Hypertension

High blood pressure Is a very common cause of heart failure. This condition overworks the heart.

That's why high blood pressure should not be ignored and must be treated with proper medications. Blood pressure should be kept under 130/80 to prevent complications.

Valve disease

Most often a congenital condition that overworks the heart and eventually leads to heart failure if not treated.

Cardiomyopathy

Damage to the heart muscle caused by infections, alcohol or drug abuse.

Many other medical issues

Thyroid disease, kidney disease, diabetes or heart defects present at birth.

Heart failure should be promptly treated by a cardiologist.

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