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It’s estimated that about 7 million people in the UK are currently coping with cardiovascular disease, with about half a million of those people suffering from congestive heart failure (CHF). People above the age of 60 have a 10 in 1,000 chance of dealing with CHF, but it can affect people of all ages. Below we’ll look at some of the facts about heart failure to help you develop a better understanding of the disease that is profoundly affecting the wellbeing of so many people around the world:

What Effects Does Heart Failure Have?

There are varying degrees of heart failure, so symptoms might not always be drastically noticeable until the disease progresses into more advanced stages. So, if the condition doesn’t mean your heart has completely failed, you’re probably asking the question “what is heart failure?” Essentially, congestive heart failure means that your heart isn’t pumping blood as efficiently as it’s supposed to, usually because it’s been damaged due to a heart attack, prolonged high blood pressure, or other traumatic event. The condition will eventually cause fluid to back up in the lungs while also reducing the amount of blood and oxygen that circulates throughout the body. This results in the patient feeling fatigued and short of breath, especially after physical activity.

What are the Main Signs and Symptoms of Heart Failure?

The main symptom of heart failure is feeling like you’re short of breath. This feeling is usually worse after exertion but may also be noticeable while at rest. You might also notice swelling in your lower extremities (feet, legs, and ankles) as well as in your stomach or lower back. Most people with heart failure often feel tired, weak, dizzy and confused because there’s not enough blood being pumped to the brain. The patient might also notice that their heart rate accelerates rapidly and stays at an excessively fast pace when they’re active. Inability to maintain a low resting heart rate may be a sign that something is wrong with the cardiovascular system.

How is Heart Failure Treated?

There’s no specific cure for heart failure, but there are some treatments that can be used to control symptoms and help patients lead a more active lifestyle. Physicians sometimes prescribe drugs to help control blood pressure and strengthen the pumping action of the heart. Patients are usually instructed to stop smoking and limit salt intake. A pacemaker or ICD might be surgically installed in cases where a severe arrhythmia is the cause. Overall, a change in lifestyle and following a physician’s guidance can do a lot to improve quality of life and lengthen the life expectancy of someone afflicted with CHF.

What Can Be Done to Prevent CHF and Other Cardiovascular Diseases?

Staying active, eating healthy, and not smoking are three things that can drastically reduce your chance of developing cardiovascular disease. People at risk of CHF or other heart diseases should make an effort to limit their consumption of salt, soda, coffee, and alcohol while maintaining a routine physical fitness regimen.