Heart Failure Symptoms, Causes, Prevention & Treatment


Heart failure, also known as congestive heart failure, happens when one’s heart muscle fails to pump blood as properly as it has to. Particular conditions such as constricted arteries in one’s heart, a condition known as coronary artery illness or high blood pressure, slowly leave one’s heart very stiff or weak to fill and pump properly (Seid, Abdela, & Zeleke, 2019).

Not every condition that results in heart failure could be reversed, but treatments could improve the symptoms and signs of heart failure and assist one life longer. Changes in lifestyles, such as lowering the intake of sodium in one’s diet, exercising, losing weight, and managing stress, could improve the quality of one’s life. One means of preventing heart failure is to control and prevent illnesses that lead to heart failures, such as obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, or coronary heart disease.


Gathright et al. (2017) denote that heart failure could be chronic or one’s condition might begin abruptly (acute). Heart failure symptoms and signs might include;

  • Weakness and fatigue
  • Dyspnea or breath shortness when one lies down or exerts themselves
  • Irregular or rapid heartbeat
  • Edema or swelling in one’s feet, ankles, or legs
  • Nausea and lack of appetite
  • Swelling of one’s abdomen
  • Intensified urination frequency
  • Lowered capability to exercise
  • Very fast weight gain from fluid retention
  • Reduced concentration

When to See a Doctor

One should see their doctor if they think they may be experiencing symptoms or signs of heart failure. Emergency treatment should be sought if one experiences; severe weakness or fainting, chest pain, sudden, severe breath shortness and coughing up pink, foamy mucus, irregular or rapid heartbeat together with fainting, chest pain, or breathe shortness.

While these symptoms and signs might be as a result of heart failure, there are several other likely causes, comprising other fatal lung and heart conditions. One should never attempt to diagnose themselves. For timely help, it is advisable to call one’s local emergency or 911 (Thornhill, Lyons, Nouwen, & Lip, 2018). Doctors working in the emergency room will make efforts to alleviate one’s condition and ascertain if their signs are as a result of heart failure or some other condition.

If one was diagnosed with heart failure earlier on and if any of the signs abruptly become worse or one develops a new symptom or sign, it might imply that present heart failure is worsening or current treatment is not working. This might similarly be the case if one gains 2.3kg or extra in a few days. One should call their doctor immediately.


Heart failure usually develops after other illnesses have weakened or damaged one’s heart. Nevertheless, the heart does not have to be damaged to result in heart failure. It could similarly happen if the heart becomes very stiff.

In heart failure, the major pumping cavities of one’s heart, the ventricles, might become stiff and fail to fill correctly between beats. In other instances of heart failure, one’s heart muscle might become weakened and damaged, and the ventricles dilate or stretch to the extent that the heart becomes incapable of pumping blood efficiently all through one’s body.

In due course, the heart fails to beat a concurrency with the usual needs put on it to pump blood to other parts of the body. An ejection fraction is an essential gauge of how well one’s heart is pumping and is used to assist categorize heart failure and direct treatment. In a healthy heart, the fraction of ejection is 50% or beyond, implying that more than half of the blood that fills the ventricle is pumped out with every beat (Guglin & Barold, 2016). But heart failure could still happen even with a standard fraction of ejection. This occurs if the heart muscle becomes stiff from illnesses like high blood pressure.

Risk Factors

Mulligan et al. (2018) assert that one risk factor might be enough to result in heart failure, however, a sum of factors similarly escalates one’s risk. Risk factors comprise; use of tobacco, rapid heartbeats, obesity, use of alcohol, viruses, valvular heart disease, congenital heart defects, sleep apnea, particular medications, certain diabetes medications, diabetes, heart attack, coronary artery disease, and high blood pressure.


One major way of preventing heart failure is to lower one’s risk factors. One can regulate or do away with several risk factors for heart disease, coronary heart disease, and high blood pressure, for instance, by making changes in one’s lifestyle besides the assistance of whichever required medications.


Heart failure is a protracted illness requiring perpetual management. Nevertheless, with treatment, symptoms, and signs of heart failure could improve, and the heart occasionally becomes stronger. Treatment might assist one live longer and lower their chance of sudden death.

Doctors occasionally could treat heart failure by treating the primary cause. For instance, fixing a heart valve or regulating a rapid heartbeat might reverse heart failure. But for a majority of persons, the treatment of heart failure include a balance of the correct medicines and, in most instances, the use of devices that assist the heart contract and beat well. Medications for heart failure include Beta-blockers, ACE inhibitors, Diuretics, Angiotensin II receptor blockers, digoxin, inotropes, and aldosterone antagonists (Dornelas & Sears, 2018).


It is not too early to make healthy changes in one’s lifestyle. These changes could stop heart failure from beginning or aggravating.


Dornelas, E. A., & Sears, S. F. (2018). Living with heart despite recurrent challenges: Psychological care for adults with advanced cardiac disease. American Psychologist73(8), 1007–1018.

Gathright, E. C., Dolansky, M. A., Gunstad, J., Redle, J. D., Josephson, R. A., Moore, S. M., & Hughes, J. W. (2017). The impact of medication nonadherence on the relationship between mortality risk and depression in heart failure. Health Psychology36(9), 839–847.

Guglin, M., & Barold, S. S. (2016). Evaluation of Heart Failure Symptoms for Device Therapy. Pacing & Clinical Electrophysiology35(9), 1045–1049.

Mulligan, K., Mehta, P. A., Fteropoulli, T., Dubrey, S. W., McIntyre, H. F., McDonagh, T. A., … Newman, S. (2018). Newly diagnosed heart failure: Change in quality of life, mood, and illness beliefs in the first 6 months after diagnosis. British Journal of Health Psychology17(3), 447–462.

Seid, M. A., Abdela, O. A., & Zeleke, E. G. (2019). Adherence to self-care recommendations and associated factors among adult heart failure patients. From the patients’ point of view. PLoS ONE14(2), 1–13.

Thornhill, K., Lyons, A. C., Nouwen, A., & Lip, G. Y. H. (2018). Experiences of living with congestive heart failure: A qualitative study. British Journal of Health Psychology13(1), 155–175.




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