What Are The Causes Of Congestive Heart Failure
Congestive heart failure is a life threatening condition in which your heart muscles fail to pump blood to different parts of your body. CHF develops when fluid builds up in and around your heart and the ventricles cannot pump sufficient blood to rest of your body. Eventually, fluid and blood back up inside the lungs, liver, abdomen and lower parts of the body. CHF is commonly characterized by fatigue, shortness of breath, as well as swelling in the feet, ankles and legs. Read this oneHOWTO article to know what are the causes of congestive heart failure. In doing so, you can help avoid them and improve your chances of avoiding this debilitating condition.
List of causes
Congestive heart failure is often simply known as heart failure and is a good way to understand this process. The heart has one main purpose which is to pump blood throughout the body. This is a pretty important purpose as it is necessary to keep us alive. If you have congestive heart failure (or simply heart failure), then this means your heart is no longer adequately able to perform this function.
It is important to make the distinction between heart failure and congenital heart failure. Congenital heart failure is when your heart has a defect at birth which prohibits it from functioning properly. It is one cause of congestive heart failure among many. These include:
- High blood pressure: Normal blood pressure is around 120/80 mm HG, but it may vary due to age and lifestyle. High blood pressure refers to a significant increase in these numbers. Since there are no noticeable symptoms of high blood pressure, it is important to get it checked every now and then. Keeping it under control can be helpful in preventing other conditions that may ensue due to hypertension. People with high blood pressure are more likely to have congestive heart failure than others.
- Diabetes: Diabetes is caused due to raised glucose levels in your blood. Deficiency or absence of insulin often leads to this condition. The pancreas secretes the insulin hormone which works to reduce levels of sugar in your blood. There are two different types of diabetes, type 1 in which there is no production of insulin and type 2 in which the body develops resistance to insulin present in the body. Diabetes can cause serious damage to your nerves, kidneys and eyes, and also lead to heart disease that may contribute to congestive heart failure.
- Hyperthyroidism: Hormone thyroxine secreted by the thyroid gland is responsible for controlling the metabolism of your body. When it produces excessive hormone, it leads to hyperthyroidism which is characterized by an enlarged thyroid, nervousness, heat intolerance, rapid heart rate, weight changes, etc. Hyperthyroidism can be effectively treated with radioactive iodine. But if left untreated, it may lead to congestive heart failure over time.
- Kidney Disease: Kidneys are responsible for filtering waste and excess water from your blood and let it pass through urine. Kidneys also play a significant role in keeping blood pressure under control and maintain balance of minerals and salt in your blood. Hypertension and diabetes are related to commonly cause kidney disease. It may be chronic or acute, both of which can result in kidney failure. There are strong relations between chronic kidney disease and congestive heart failure. However the exact mechanism is not yet known. According to a study, 25% of people who have kidney disease also develop CHF.
- Coronary Heart Disease: coronary heart disease occurs when fatty plaque accumulates in the walls of your heart arteries. Over time, ischemia develops in which fatty plaque starts blocking blood flow to your heart muscles. If the condition lasts long enough, the heart muscles start dying and lead to myocardial infarction or heart attack.
- Dilated Cardiomyopathy: This is a heart muscle related disease that happens when your heart’s ventricles enlarge in size. Cardiomyopathy may be restrictive or hypertrophic, both result in dysfunction of the heart and eventually heart failure. Dilated cardiomyopathy can be treated with blood pressure control and dietary changes like reduced sodium and increased water intake. If there is no improvement with these steps, your cardiologist may recommend putting you on a heart transplant list.
- Heart Valve Disease: the heart contains four chambers and the flow of blood is coordinated through their four valves. These valves do not allow blood to lead back. But sometimes, a heart valve narrows to the extent it fails to close down tightly and permits blood to leak back. This kind of heart valve disease can be a birth defect or an individual may even develop it during life. An echocardiogram is required to diagnose this disease and it can be a major cause of a congestive heart failure.
- Pericarditis: the pericardium is a membrane that surrounds the heart. Its inflammation is termed as pericarditis. It is commonly caused due to viral infection in pathogens, like influenza A & B, adenovirus, etc. Other causes may be recent heart surgery, trauma, tuberculosis, heart attack and some medicines. Although it may be chronic or acute, chronic pericarditis may be caused by lupus, rheumatoid arthritis or scleroderma. Symptoms include fatigue, tachycardia, fever, cough and sharp chest pain radiating to the shoulder. Pericardiocentesis is recommended in which a surgical puncture is used to remove fluids from the cavity surrounding the heart.
- Hemochromatosis: this is a genetic disorder in which iron gets abnormally accumulated in your body, including in your organs like pancreas, heart and liver. Since excess iron cannot be removed from the body except for blood removal, it becomes toxic to your organs over time. Causes include blood transfusions, thalassemia or anemia. Complications may include impotence, thyroid disease, liver cancer, liver cirrhosis, diabetes and congestive heart failure.
- Congenital Heart Defects: as discussed above, this occurs when a person develops certain heart defects at birth. They may involve your heart’s valves, arteries, veins or walls, leading to a change in the normal blood flow through the heart. These are very common birth defects and can also contribute to infant death (SIDs). These are more than 35 different types of heart defects a child may be born with.
- Myocarditis: the myocardium is the middle layer of muscle in the heart. Sometimes, it becomes inflamed and the condition is known as myocarditis. There are different causes of myocarditis, most common of which is a viral infection like hepatitis C, HIV and herpes. Although the condition does not develop any symptoms, it may damage a person’s heart muscle to the extent that it fails to pump blood any more. At this point, the person suffers from congestive heart failure. Other complications related to myocarditis include arrhythmias, myocardial infarction, cerebrovascular accidents and even sudden death.
- Amyloidosis: this is a rare disease which causes dysfunction due to depsoits of amyloid in organs and tissues of the body. Amyloid is a protein produce in the bone marrow and deposits in tissues and organs. It frequently affects organs like kidneys, lungs, spleen, liver and heart. The condition can be systemic or localized, and may be primary or secondary. Amyloidosis cannot be cured and often leads to life threatening organ failure including the heart.
Life expectancy with congestive heart failure
When you have congestive heart failure, your heart is not able to pump sufficient amounts of fresh blood to meet your body's needs. When people are diagnosed with CHS, their first question is for how long they would manage to live. According to a research, 50% of people who have been diagnosed with CHS manage to live for an average of 5 years. Those with advanced heart failure die within a year of diagnosis. However, your life expectancy can improve significantly by bringing some significant changes in your diet and lifestyle. Some basic steps are:
- Quit smoking immediately
- Eat organic, seasonal, fresh, pesticide-free food only
- Avoid processed foods
- Eat food good for the heart
- Reduce consumption of carbohydrates
- Drink pure, nourishing water that is free of chemicals and impurities
- Sit in the sun to get enough vitamin D
- Increase light exercise and walk more
- Reduce stress
This article is merely informative, oneHOWTO does not have the authority to prescribe any medical treatments or create a diagnosis. We invite you to visit your doctor if you have any type of condition or pain.
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