When people talk about heart failure, they often associate it with a heart attack. But when do we speak of heart failure and when of a heart attack? What are the differences and perhaps also the similarities? We will enlighten you!
What is heart failure?
According to the definition, heart failure is a weakness of the heart. Due to cardiac insufficiency, the heart is no longer able to pump enough blood into the body. As a result, our organs and muscles are no longer supplied with enough oxygen. This in turn affects our organs and muscles. In short, this is a heart disease with a pumping disorder.
Nevertheless, it can already be a case of heart failure if the heart can no longer relax and expand properly. This is also referred to as heart failure. This type of heart failure usually occurs in combination with high blood pressure, heart muscle inflammation or heart attack. After these diseases, the heart is usually so weakened that heart failure can occur as a result.
What happens in heart failure?
According to the definition, heart failure is a weakness of the heart that prevents the heart from performing at 100% of its usual capacity. There are many different ways in which a heart can be limited in its functions. As a rule, the heart can no longer count on its full pumping capacity. In other words, the heart can no longer work as well and you are limited in certain situations. But how does heart failure happen in the first place? There are various causes for this.
Basically, heart failure occurs at an advanced age because the heart automatically loses power over time. In other words, it is a natural course that one will suffer from heart failure at some point. However, there can also be other reasons for heart failure, for example, consequential damage after heart disease.
The most common heart diseases with heart failure as a consequence include:
- Heart attack
- High blood pressure
- Coronary heart disease
- Congenital heart damage
- Cardiac arrhythmia
- Heart muscle inflammation
Most of these causes are heart disease, which can occur over time. Inflammation of the heart muscle, on the other hand, is much easier to prevent. Normally, inflammation of the heart muscle occurs when we overload our heart. For example, inflammation of the heart muscle often occurs when we do sport even though we are ill.
How does heart failure actually make itself felt? After a heart disease, you quickly notice whether your physical performance is limited. You can easily compare how you felt before and afterwards. In addition, after heart disease, the doctor treating you may diagnose additional heart failure.
If this is not the case, heart failure becomes noticeable through the following symptoms:
- Everyday movements are significantly more strenuous than before
- Limbs are permanently cold
- Fluid in the lungs and an unpleasant cough
- General breathing problems with shortness of breath up to and including possible breathlessness.
- Sleep disturbances due to breathing problems
- Water retention in the legs and feet
- Lack of drive and feeling listless
How is it different from a heart attack?
As a rule, similar causes trigger the two heart diseases. But they differ in that heart failure is usually the result of a heart attack. In addition, in a heart attack, the narrowing of the coronary vessels is the trigger. Heart failure is a general weakness of the heart. In addition, heart failure can be an acute or chronic disease. Learn more about what happens in our body during a heart attack.
What are the different types of heart failure?
Heart failure can be divided into many different categories. For example, one can distinguish between left and right heart failure. There are also other ways to differentiate:
- Global heart failure
- Diastolic heart failure
- Systolic heart failure
But you can also distinguish between acute and chronic heart failure.
Acute heart failure is a cardiac insufficiency that occurs at a moment’s notice. A few minutes or even hours are enough.
Chronic heart failure, on the other hand, is a prolonged cardiac insufficiency. Here, the disease has been present for several weeks, months or even years.
Severity of heart failure
Heart failure can be divided into four different degrees of severity. The stages are defined by the New York Heart Association (NYHA)
- Severity 1: There are hardly any symptoms, but cardiac output is nevertheless limited.
- Severity 2: Shortness of breath and fatigue occur after physical exertion.
- Severity 3: The first symptoms appear after very light physical exertion.
- 4. severity: the symptoms increase without any physical stress.
What is the life expectancy with heart failure?
Life expectancy naturally depends on the severity of the heart failure. If the heart failure is in severity grade I, life expectancy is still high. However, if it is severity III or IV, life expectancy is naturally much lower. Of course, no general guarantee can be given for the different degrees of severity. Every heart failure should be taken seriously and can mean far-reaching limitations. In order to increase life expectancy with heart failure, one can seek treatment.
What treatment is available for heart failure?
The treatment of heart failure varies from severity to severity. In addition, the treatment must be individually adapted to each patient. For example, pre-existing conditions of the heart and other pre-existing conditions play an important role. The treatment can be either a drug therapy or a surgical intervention. The intake of medication can counteract the heart failure to a certain extent.
Surgery, on the other hand, is usually only performed in cases of severe heart failure. Which treatment is optimal for my heart failure? You should discuss this question with your doctor. He or she can recommend an appropriate therapy, for example in the form of a cure.
- Recognising a heart attack: what to look out for?
- Anatomy of the heart: how does our heart really work?
- Healthy heart: What is healthy for the heart?
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