What is Heart failure?
All of us lose some blood-pumping ability in our hearts as we age, but heart failure happens when the heart can't keep up with its normal workload. When this happens, the heart can't pump enough blood to the lungs and the rest of the body and fluid can back up, causing swelling of the legs and ankles and congestion in the lungs. Even though heart failure can occur more than once in a lifetime, it can be treated with medications, diet, lifestyle changes, and in some cases, surgery.
What causes it?
Heart failure can be caused by both things you can control and by things that have already happened to you, like a heart defect you've had since you were born or because of a virus that affected your heart. Sometimes people who have had a heart attack or problems with their heart valves go into heart failure. Other illnesses that might lead to heart failure include uncontrolled blood pressure, high cholesterol, severe lung disease, uncontrolled diabetes, severe anemia, an overactive thyroid gland, and abnormal heart rhythms.
What can I do to prevent heart failure?
- Taking your blood pressure and other medicines as the doctor has taught you
- Stopping smoking
- Losing weight
- Staying away from foods high in fat and cholesterol
- Exercising regularly
- Cutting down on salt
- Working with your doctor to keep your diabetes under control
- Telling your doctor about ankle swelling and any trouble catching your breath