What Is Heart failure?
The pumping action of the heart delivers blood rich in oxygen and nutrients to the cells of the body. And, when the cells get proper blood flow, they are nourished and enable the body to function normally.
Also known as congestive heart failure, when the heart muscle does not pump the blood properly, heart failure occurs. This condition is when the heart is unable to handle the load. Conditions like high blood pressure, a disease of the coronary artery (narrowing of the arteries), etc. makes the heart very weak to pump blood effectively. Heart failure is very a serious and progressive condition and usually does not have a cure. However, even if you have suffered from heart failure, with proper medications and a few lifestyle changes, the conditions can be managed.
Heart failure may be due to a problem in the right ventricle (right side), left ventricle (left side) or may involve both the sides. Commonly, heart failure occurs due to a problem in the left ventricle, which is the main pumping side of the heart.
The different types of heart failure are:
- Left side heart failure: The fluid can collect in the lungs resulting in shortness of breath.
- Right side heart failure: Fluid may collect in the legs, feet, and abdomen and cause swelling.
- Diastolic heart failure: This is when the left chamber cannot fill or relax completely. This indicates a problem with filling.
- Systolic heart failure: The left ventricle of the heart cannot contract quickly and this indicates a problem with pumping.
What Are The Symptoms Of Heart failure?
The condition of heart failure can be chronic i.e. ongoing or acute i.e. starts suddenly and the symptoms of heart failure include:
- Weakness and fatigue
- Shortness of breath (dyspnea) when you lie down or exert yourself
- Edema or swelling of feet, legs, and ankles
- Inability to exercise
- Irregular or rapid heartbeat
- Coughing or wheezing with pink or white phlegm tinged with blood
- Ascites or swelling of abdomen
- Weight gain due to retention of fluid
- Urgency to urinate at night
- Nausea and lack of appetite
Reduced alertness or difficulty in concentration
If heart failure is due to heart attack, then you may experience severe pain in the chest
Acute shortness of breath and coughing foamy, pink phlegm
What Are The Causes Of Heart failure?
There are many conditions that can weaken or damage your heart and result in heart failure and some of the causes are:
- Heart attack and coronary heart disease
- Damaged heart valves due to heart infection, heart defect or coronary heart disease
- Hypertension or high blood pressure
- Cardiomyopathy or damage of the heart muscle due to diseases and infections, smoking, abuse of alcohol and drugs, chemotherapy drugs and genetic factors.
- Myocarditis (inflammation of heart muscle).
- Congenital heart defects (born with heart defects).
- Heart arrhythmias or abnormal rhythms of the heart.
- Other diseases like HIV, diabetes, hyperthyroidism, hypothyroidism, hemochromatosis (iron build-up) and amyloidosis (protein build-up).
- Severe infections, viruses attacking the heart muscle, blood clots occurring in the lungs, allergic reactions, illness affecting entire body or certain medications.
What Are The Things One Should Do To Manage Heart failure?
Making certain lifestyle changes can help to prevent heart failure such as:
- Controlling problems like diabetes and hypertension.
- Eating healthy.
- Being physically active.
- Maintaining a healthy weight.
- Use healthy methods of cooking like baking, boiling, steaming, grilling, etc. instead of frying.
What Are The Things One Should Avoid To Manage Heart failure?
- Don't take stress
- Avoid smoking and if you do, quit completely.
What Are The Best Foods For Heart failure?
- Switch to lean meats like chicken, fish, turkey, etc. and cook them without adding fat.
- Eat fresh or frozen vegetables and fruits as they contain less sodium.
- Use monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats like olive oil, canola oil, etc. and avoid the use of saturated fats to reduce your cholesterol levels.
- To add flavor to your foods, add spices, herbs, vinegar, lime or lemon juice, etc. instead of salt-based condiments and flavorings.
- Eat unsalted nuts, fruits, and vegetables as a snack.
- Consume fat-free or low-fat milk and dairy products.
- Stick to whole grain bread and cereals.
What Are The Worst Foods For Heart failure?
- Avoid trans fats in the food you eat. Avoid eating baked foods like margarine, cakes, pastries, fried fast foods, frozen pizzas, cookies, etc.
- Avoid meats that are high in fat like prime cuts, hamburgers, etc.
- Reduce the amount of cheese you eat, especially the ones that contain salt.
- Avoid processed foods like hot dogs, bacon, canned foods, ramen, soups, macaroni, and cheese, etc.
- Avoid condiments like pickles, mustard, sauces with salt, etc.
- Avoid salt or salty foods or reduce the amount of salt used in your cooking (limit amount of salt and sodium to around 1500-2000 mg per day).
- Avoid sugary foods and foods that do not have any nutrition such as sodas, fast food, candy, etc.
What Are The Medicines For Heart failure?
What Are The Tips To Manage Heart failure?
Some home remedies for heart failure are:
- Garlic is very beneficial for problems like high cholesterol, blood pressure, coronary heart disease, etc. It also helps to prevent the hardening of arteries (atherosclerosis) and improves blood circulation. You can eat 1-2 fresh cloves of garlic every day or you can take garlic supplements instead.
- Hawthorn is an excellent herb for the cardiovascular system and can be beneficial in the case of heart failure. The herb helps to improve the contractions of the cardiac muscles resulting in stronger pumping and also increases the flow of blood to the heart. Hawthorn also helps to enhance the cardiac output and performance and reduces the load on the heart.
- Research has found that extract from the Chinese hibiscus flow has anti-atherosclerosis effects and the flower has antioxidants that help to prevent bad cholesterol, the main cause of heart failure. You can drink herbal tea made by boiling petals of hibiscus in water with a teaspoon of raw honey once in a week for beneficial effects.
- Turmeric is found to be very beneficial for heart health and can prevent atherosclerosis. The curcumin present in turmeric helps to keep the heart healthy by preventing the oxidation of cholesterol, formation of clots and plaque build-up. Using turmeric in your cooking regularly is a good idea. Or, you can boil a teaspoon of turmeric in a cup of milk or water and drink it 1-2 times in a day for a few months for excellent benefits. You can also have turmeric in the form of a supplement too.
- Cayenne pepper is excellent for the treatment of circulatory and heart problems. The compound capsaicin present in cayenne helps to lower cholesterol levels and prevent the irregular rhythms of the heart. You can add ½ - 1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper to a glass of hot water and drink it 2-3 times in a week or you can take cayenne supplements.