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Heart failure ? It doesn’t mean your heart is about to stop!

So after being diagnosed with heart failure, the questions that I had were unreal, “What is heart failure? Am I going to die soon? How did I get it? Why me?“. This is when I knew it was research time, I needed answers to my questions and also needed to get my head around heart failure & the next steps too.

What is heart failure? It does not mean your heart is about to stop. Heart failure is an unfortunate phrase which describes a set of conditions. However, you describe it; it means that your heart is not working correctly. Many different conditions can cause heart failure. The reality is that they all affect your heart’s ability to pump nutrient-rich oxygenated blood around the body.

Wow! Those words... “it means that your heart is not working correctly.” stuck with me! Towards the end of 2020, I could ‘feel’ a physical difference in my body & it wasn’t by choice. I put it down to being rundown with lock-down, homeschooling, work, lack of outdoor and social activity. I felt fluish (I know, it's not a word, but it sounds like it could be one) at times, so tired, no energy to do anything, slight palpitations every now and again & shortness of breath. But I pushed through, multiple times, and as bad as it is to say it, not once did I think my symptoms would lead me on to heart failure.

Some common symptoms include:

  • Fluid retention – swelling of the ankles and or legs and the tummy

  • Extreme tiredness

  • Breathlessness – especially when lying flat, like in bed

What causes heart failure?

There are lots of reasons why you may have heart failure. It can be sudden or it can happen slowly over months or years.

The most common causes of heart failure are:

  • a heart attack – which can cause long-term damage to your heart, affecting how well the heart can pump.

  • high blood pressure - putting strain on the heart, which over time can lead to heart failure.

  • cardiomyopathy - a disease of the heart muscle. There are different types which can either be inherited or caused by other things, such as viral infections or pregnancy.

Can I improve my heart failure naturally?

If your doctor prescribes you medication it’s important to take it. But making changes to your lifestyle is also going to have a big impact on improving your health.

Changes may include:

  • weighing yourself regularly – sudden weight gain may mean too much fluid is building up in your body

  • watching the amount of fluid you have each day

  • managing stress

  • controlling your blood pressure

  • stopping smoking

  • limiting how much alcohol you drink

  • keeping active – this can help improve your energy, stamina and fitness

  • keeping to a healthy weight, which will help to prevent your heart from working too hard.

It cannot usually be cured, but the symptoms can often be controlled for many years.

SOURCE: British Heart Foundation - Heart Failure


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