Cardiovascular Diseases

Heart Failure (heart failure)

Heart failure

It is a condition that occurs when the heart muscle does not pump enough blood as it should, which leads to insufficient blood flow to vital organs (such as: kidneys) and congestion (fluid accumulation) in other vital organs such as the lungs. Heart failure does not mean that the heart stops working. In some cases, it can be mild and cause minor symptoms that only appear through physical activity, and other times it can be severe (causing symptoms at rest) or even life-threatening. It can occur at any age, but is most common in the elderly. Although heart failure is a serious condition, safe and effective treatments are available and can relieve symptoms.

Types of heart failure:

There are two main types that are determined based on how well the ability of the left ventricle to pump blood, either reduced or maintained:

  • Systolic heart failure: The failure of the systolic function of the heart muscle, so the heart is too weak to pump blood normally.
  • Diastolic heart failure: Failure of the diastolic function in the heart muscle, where the heart is very hard when the heart pumps, so it does not rest and returns blood normally.


It often occurs when the heart muscle is less able to contract due to disease or damage to its muscle, causing damage to a part of it that limits its ability to fill and pump blood normally, so it can't keep up with the body's demands. The most common causes of heart failure include the following:

  • High blood pressure: The heart must work harder to pump blood, and over time the increased workload can reduce the heart's ability to relax and fill with blood.
  • Coronary heart disease: The arteries that supply blood to the heart become blocked with fatty deposits (plaques), which reduces blood flow and parts of the heart muscle are deprived of oxygen and the heart cannot function. Coronary heart disease can also lead to a heart attack (called myocardial infarction) in the event that the artery is completely blocked; This causes permanent damage to the heart muscle.
  • Cardiomyopathy: This occurs when the heart muscle does not pump or relax normally. Cardiomyopathy is associated with various medical conditions, including certain autoimmune disorders, a genetic mutation, a buildup of abnormal proteins in the body, or an infection.
  • Heart valve disease: Narrowing of the valve can occur, which impedes blood flow through the valve and increases pressure in the heart, or blood leaks from the valve, and blood returns in the opposite direction.

Risk factors:

  • Getting old.
  • Chronic diseases (such as: high blood pressure, coronary artery disease, and others).
  • Having problems with the heart valves
  • Irregular heartbeat (atrial fibrillation).
  • Severe lung disease.
  • Sleep apnea.
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Infection with some viruses
  • Obesity.
  • An unhealthy diet.
  • Smoking.
  • Drug abuse and alcohol use.
  • Lack of physical activity.


It depends on the type of heart failure, and it can develop rapidly (acute heart failure), or gradually over a period of weeks or months (chronic heart failure), as it includes:

  • Shortness of breath after usual routine activities.
  • Fatigue and tiredness.
  • Pain in chest.
  • Lack of appetite and nausea.
  • Swelling in the legs and feet.
  • Fingers and lips turn blue.
  • Weight gain due to fluid retention.
  • Drowsiness and difficulty concentrating.
  • Inability to sleep lying down.
  • Inability to engage in physical activity.
  • Continuous cough.
  • Increased need to urinate a lot.

Although these signs may be the result of heart failure, some diseases may share these signs, including lung diseases.

When to see a doctor:

When faced with the above symptoms and signs.


  • Deterioration of heart function (if left untreated).
  • Fluid buildup in or around the lungs.
  • Kidney failure or liver damage due to decreased blood flow and fluid buildup.
  • Malnutrition because nausea and swelling in the abdomen can make eating uncomfortable, and reduced blood flow to the stomach makes it difficult to absorb nutrients from food.
  • Have other heart conditions (such as arrhythmias, leaking heart valves or pulmonary hypertension).


  • Clinical examination.
  • Medical history.
  • Laboratory analyzes.
  • Other procedures such as: ECG, echocardiography, chest X-rays, computed tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and nuclear scans that doctors can use to examine the heart muscle and coronary arteries in certain cases.


Medications often can't cure heart failure, but they can control symptoms for as long as possible, slow the progression of the condition, and improve quality of life, usually for life. These include:

  • Life style change.
  • Medications: These include medications that improve heart function (beta-blockers), certain vasodilators, diuretics, aldosterone inhibitors, and anticoagulants.
  • Devices implanted in the chest, such as pacemakers (cardiac defibrillators) when needed.
  • Surgery if the patient's condition calls for it.

Treatment may be possible. When heart failure has a treatable cause (e.g., a problem with the heart valves), replacing or repairing them may cure the condition.


The disease can be prevented by controlling some risk factors and adopting a healthy lifestyle, which includes:

  • Follow a healthy diet.
  • Do regular physical activity.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Control of chronic diseases.
  • Quit smoking.

Instructions for people with heart failure:

  • Make sure to carry the medical card in case of emergencies.
  • Take care to take the necessary vaccinations (e.g.: seasonal influenza and pneumococcal).
  • Maintain a healthy weight; To reduce the burden on the heart.
  • Commitment to the amount of fluids as recommended by the doctor.
  • Avoid stopping medication or changing the amount without consulting your doctor.
  • Knowing the names of medicines and how to take them (dosages, frequency, special instructions).
  • Do physical activity as directed by your doctor.
  • Maintain follow-up visits with the doctor.
  • Reduce salt in the diet.
  • Be sure to record the weight every morning, and discuss the ideal weight with the doctor.
  • Ensure that you get enough sleep.
  • Be sure to seek medical advice before traveling.
  • Quit Smoking.

Last Update : 23 August 2023 03:43 PM
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