Heart Failure Overview - Basic
MEDICAL ANIMATION TRANSCRIPT: This video will help you understand what heart failure is. Please watch the entire video to learn about heart failure. Your heart is a muscular organ that pumps blood containing the oxygen and nutrients your body needs. Heart failure means that your heart can't pump enough blood around your body. In some cases, heart failure may be temporary. But in most cases, some of the heart damage is permanent. Heart failure can affect both sides of your heart or just one side. Your heart may not pump enough blood to your lungs to pick up enough oxygen. Your heart also may not pump enough oxygen rich blood out to the rest of your body. This can cause the body to hold onto water, and let fluid buildup in your body and in your lungs. Many health conditions that weaken or overwork the heart can cause heart failure. A health condition may keep your heart from squeezing as hard as it should. Health conditions that can cause heart failure include coronary artery disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, heart valve problems and heart muscle problems that are present at birth or caused by infection or toxins. Sometimes heart failure doesn't cause any symptoms, especially if it isn't severe. But it often causes these common symptoms: Feeling out of breath with a small amount of activity. Feeling out of breath when trying to lie flat. Waking up in the middle of the night feeling very short of breath. Feeling tired a lot and having swelling, especially in the legs, belly and blood vessels of the neck. Be sure to tell your health care provider right away if symptoms get worse. Your provider will ask you to weigh yourself every day and watch for sudden weight gain, which can be a sign of worsening heart failure. To find out if heart failure is causing your symptoms, your health care provider may do certain tests. You might need an electrocardiogram, which is a test that looks at your hearts electrical rhythm. You may also have an echocardiogram, this is a test that uses sound waves to see how well your heart works. A chest x-ray can show if your heart is enlarged or if there is fluid in your lungs. Sometimes blood tests can help find the cause of heart failure. Your health care provider might also want to see how your heart performs during exercise. You might need other tests too. Your health care provider will work with you to find the best treatment for your symptoms, and to keep your heart failure from getting worse. You may also need to treat the cause of your heart failure. Lifestyle changes are an important part of treatment. Your health care provider may recommend a diet that is low in salt. He or she may also ask you to limit the amount of fluid you drink. You should also limit alcohol consumption. Losing weight, staying physically active, and quitting smoking can also help. You will likely get prescription medications to treat your heart failure. One common type of medication is a Diuretic. Diuretics help to get rid of excess fluid. You may also be prescribed an ACE inhibitor. This is a drug to reduce your blood pressure. Other drugs may help decrease how hard your heart needs to work. Depending on the cause of your heart failure, your health care provider may recommend a procedure or surgery to help your heart. Your provider can tell you more about the best options for your heart failure. Here are some things to remember: heart failure means that your heart can't pump blood as it should. Different health conditions can cause heart failure. You may need lifestyle changes, medications, or procedures to help treat your heart failure. Work closely with your health care provider to treat your heart failure. Together you can help improve your symptoms and quality of life.