Heart Failure: Stages, Symptoms, Treatment and Prevention
Generally, the “Heart Failure” term sounds like the heart is no longer working at all and we can’t do anything for that. Actually, Heart failure means a chronic, progressive condition in which the heart muscle is unable to pump enough blood to meet the body’s need for blood and oxygen.
Our body depends on the pumping action of the heart to deliver oxygen and nutrient-rich blood to the body’s cells. When these cells are nourished properly, the body functions normally. With heart failure, the heart can’t supply the cells with enough blood due to the weakness of the heart.
In today’s context, there are many heart failure cases in our country. This is due to the rise in coronary heart disease, obesity, diabetes, rheumatic heart diseases, etc. Apart from non-modifiable factors like age, gender, and genetics, factors such as high blood pressure and inactive lifestyle can also increase the risk of heart failure.
Heart failure is a chronic- long term condition that gets worse with time. According to the New York Heart Association(NYHA), there are four stages of heart failure (Stage I, II, III, and IV) which range from the high risk of developing heart failure to advance heart failure and provide treatment plans. Stage I and II are considered to be pre heart failure phase, Stage III refers to patients who had shown some symptoms of the disease, and Stage IV refers to a patient with advance symptoms of heart failure.
- Fatigue and weakness
- Swelling of legs, ankles, and feet
- Shortness of breath
- Rapid and irregular heartbeat
- Frequent urination at night
- loss of appetite and nausea
- Chest pain if your heart failure is caused by a heart attack
The goal of treatment is to keep you from progressing through the stages. Treatment at each stage of heart failure may involve changes to medications, lifestyle behavior, and cardiac devices. A variety of treatments are available like surgeries, implantable devices such as pacemakers and ICDs (Implantable cardioverter-defibrillator), and therapies for advanced heart failure patients.
When any other option fails, a heart transplant or an LVAD is considered. LVAD (left ventricular assist device) is a battery-operated mechanical pump that helps the left and largest chamber of the heart to pump blood.
- Quit smoking, avoid drug and alcohol consumption
- Engage in exercise and outdoor activities
- Eat a well balanced and healthy diet
- Analyze the warning signs and symptoms