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What is Heart Failure?

What is heart failure?

Heart failure is when the heart becomes less efficient at pumping blood around the body. This usually happens as the heart has become too weak or stiff.

It is a long-term condition. In most cases, heart failure cannot be cured, but it can be managed through medications, lifestyle changes and devices (e.g. pacemakers).

Signs and symptoms of heart failure

These symptoms are not always exclusive to heart failure. If you experience any of them, please contact your GP/healthcare professional.

This is more evident when exercising or exerting yourself. This may occur at rest and can affect your sleeping pattern, causing you to wake as the condition worsens.

This can also extend to the thighs, groin and abdomen and is due to the body retaining salt and water.

Due to fluid building up in the body, you may gain weight quickly.

This is a common problem and can happen even when you are resting or not being very active. This is partly due to the reduction in blood flow to the muscles.

Due to a build-up of fluid in the lungs, you may develop a cough or wheeze and produce a white frothy phlegm.

You can feel full or bloated, due to congestion in the liver and digestive system.

These symptoms are not always exclusive to heart failure. If you experience any of these, please contact your GP/healthcare professional.

What causes heart failure?

Here are some examples:

  • Heart attack – myocardial infarction
  • High blood pressure – hypertension
  • Heart valves – that either leak or are too narrow
  • Alcohol – drinking too much over a long period of time
  • Cardiomyopathy – diseases of the heart muscle
How is heart failure diagnosed?

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