1. What is the difference between Heart Failure and Heart Attack?

Most heart attacks happen suddenly when one of the arteries leading to the heart becomes blocked and cuts off the blood flow. Without oxygen, the heart muscles start to die.

Heart failure usually develops gradually. The heart muscle becomes weaker and has trouble pumping blood to nourish the cells in your body. This is a chronic condition that gradually gets worse.

2. What is Congestive Heart Failure?

Congestive heart failure (CHF) is a chronic progressive condition that affects the pumping power of your heart muscles. While often referred to simply as “heart failure,” CHF specifically refers to the stage in which fluid builds up around the heart and causes it to pump inefficiently.

3. What causes Congestive Heart Failure?

Many disease processes can impair the pumping efficiency of the heart to cause congestive heart failure. The most common causes of congestive heart failure are:

  • Coronary artery disease
  • High blood pressure (hypertension)
  • Longstanding alcohol abuse
  • Disorders of the disorders of the heart valves
  • Unknown (idiopathic) causes, such as after recovery from myocarditis
  • Less common causes of congestive heart failure include:
  • Viral infections of the stiffening of the heart muscle
  • Thyroid disorders
  • Heart rhythm abnormalities
4. What are the 4 stages of Congestive Heart Failure?

There are four different stages of HF: A, B, C, and D.

Stage A

People with stage A HF do not yet have dysfunction of the pumping activity of the heart, but have a high risk of developing HF due to related conditions – chronic high blood pressure, diabetes, and coronary artery disease. People with this stage HF have no problems with the structure of the heart or how their heart works

Stage B

Structural heart disease develops at this stage, such as reduced pumping function of the heart, which can lead to an enlarged left ventricle. It can also result from a previous heart attack. However, people with HF stage B remain asymptomatic.

Stage C

People at this stage will show symptoms of HF linked to underlying structural heart disease, including fatigue or breathlessness. These symptoms usually occur due to problems with the squeezing function of the left ventricle, or the pumping chamber of the heart.

Stage D

At stage D, people will have advanced structural heart disease and display significant symptoms, even when they are at rest. This stage is severe and may require advanced specialized treatment, such as mechanical circulatory support, continuous inotropic infusion to make the heart squeeze harder, cardiac transplant, or hospice care.

5. How long can you live with Heart Failure?

Life expectancy with congestive heart failure varies depending on the severity of the condition, genetics, age, and other factors. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), around one-half of all people diagnosed with congestive heart failure will survive beyond five years. Only around 10 percent of people diagnosed with the condition survive at least 10 years, according to a study published in August 2013 in the journal Circulation Research.

6. How long does end stage of Heart Failure last?

Patients are considered to be in the terminal end stage of heart disease when they have a life expectancy of six months or less. Only a doctor can make a clinical determination of congestive heart failure life expectancy.

7. End stage of Heart Failure – what to expect?
  • The patient has advanced congestive heart failure or advanced coronary disease with frequent episodes of angina (chest pain resulting from insufficient supply of blood and oxygen to the heart).
  • The patient has an abnormal heart (because of underlying disease) and suffers significant symptoms of fatigue, shortness of breath or functional decline.
  • Optimal treatment for the patient’s condition has already been provided and he or she is not a candidate for further surgical or medical intervention.
  • The patient has tried optimal treatment(s) and made the personal choice not to pursue any further specialized treatment.
8. How to prevent Heart Failure?

You can lower your odds of getting heart failure. And the earlier you start, the better your chances. You can begin with a few of these simple steps:

  • Stick to a healthy weight.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Eat fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins.
  • Limit bad fats, added sugars, salt, and alcohol.
  • Don’t smoke or use recreational drugs.
  • Reduce your stress.
  • Get enough sleep.

A risk for HF can be reduced with regular checkups. These checkups can tell if you have any common but treatable conditions that may lead to HF, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, or high cholesterol.

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