Heart Failure Symptoms: Swelling In The Feet And 10 Other Unusual Signs You Should Never Ignore

Heart Failure Symptoms: Swelling In The Feet And 10 Other Unusual Signs You Should Never Ignore

How does a heart failure look like? Take a look at the top 10 warning symptoms.

Congestive heart failure occurs when one or both of your heart’s bottom chambers stop properly pumping blood (remember, it doesn’t stop operating, it just slows down). As a result of the heart’s inability to pump blood, blood flow slows and backs up in the veins of your legs, ankles, and feet. This illness causes oedema, or swelling, due to an excess of fluid trapped in the body’s tissues.

Today, in this article, we will talk about the various contributing factors to heart failure and measures that one can take to keep the organ safe from suffering a failure. To understand the concept of heart failure better, and know what goes inside your body when it occurs, we spoke to Dr Saurabh Deshpande, Consultant Cardiac Electrophysiologist, Jaslok Hospital, Mumbai. Scroll down to know what the doctor wants you to understand.

What Is A Heart Failure?

The heart plays a very important role in keeping the body’s overall health under check — to pump blood, loaded with oxygen and other nutrients, to every cell in your body. This organ has two sides — the right side and the left side. The right side of the heart receives blood from the body and sends it to the lungs for oxygenation, whereas the left side of the body receives this oxygenated blood from the lungs and then sends it out to the rest of the body for nourishment. The function by which the shifting of the blood happens outside the heart is called the pumping function of the heart. So, whenever we think about heart failure, it refers that the pumping function is not working very well and will hamper the flow of blood.

So when the right side of the heart fails to perform its duty, the blood doesn’t reach all the body parts, which in a way affects the entire functioning of the body. At this point in time, one can notice unusual swelling all over the body (including legs and arms). Similarly, when the left side of the heart fails to function properly, it can lead to a condition where the blood gets stuck inside the lungs, causing it to function abnormally. This condition can also lead to certain types of breathing difficulties or lung-related problems in the patient.

Symptoms of Heart Failure

Are you at risk of suffering heart failure? Take a look at the below-mentioned signs and symptoms of impending heart failure, and how your body may react when it strikes.

  1. The most common symptom is breathing difficulty, with an acute chest pain. The patient may find it difficult to inhale and exhale air, and end up taking deep breaths.
  2. The second sign is rapid heartbeats. It is one of the 10 early signs of heart failure that one should never miss or ignore.
  3. Another unusual sign can be difficulty breathing while sleeping. This can also cause insomnia and lead to more health complications.
  4. The next most common symptom of heart failure is swelling which starts in the legs and may spread all over the body.
  5. Another common symptom which we see some people feel is a persistent cough mixed with phlegm.
  6. Some people may also feel an unusual heartbeat or an increase in their heartbeat rate. That is what we call palpitations. It can be a regular or irregular feeling of one’s own heartbeat.
  7. Some people have undue fatigue because of decreased blood supply to the body.
  8. Some people may feel some chest discomfort in the form of pain, but it is not very severe commonly unless you have a situation where there is a heart attack associated with heart failure.
  9. Pain in the upper body, shoulder and arms. This can also lead to an unexplained numbness phase.
  10. Sweating profusely is also another symptom that can show up when the heart is not functioning properly.

Causes of Heart Failure

The most common cause of heart failure is a heart attack or if you have had a heart attack in the past and it has gone unnoticed. This condition is also known as called coronary artery disease, in which the patient can develop some sort of infection in their heart, leading to the onset of myocarditis and heart failure.

“The patient can also have such complications in their heart during their birth, also known as congenital heart disease. This condition of the heart can lead to heart failure later in life,” said Dr Saurabh Deshpande. He further added, “Some people may also have rhythm disorders which can trigger palpitation (increase in the heartbeat), leading to silent heart failure. Some uncommon causes of heart failure can also include blood clots in the lung vessels.”

Who Is At Risk of Heart Failure?

Not everyone is prone to heart failure. Some people are highly predisposed to the risk of heart failure, like those who have problems like diabetes, hypertension, obesity, sleep apnea, rhythm problems, etc. People who consume tobacco in any form are also more prone to the risk of heart failure.

Treatment Modalities For Heart Failure

The most important thing to remember when understanding the treatment procedure of heart failure patients is that they should have the willpower or the willingness to fight the condition. The most common contributing factor to heart failure is lifestyle choices. Thus, the patient must have the urge to make changes in his/her lifestyle.

When it comes to the treatment procedure, there are mainly two types of scenarios where heart failure needs management:

1. In the case of acute heart failure Heart failure is for a very short time and rapid period of time

2. In the case of chronic heart failure – A condition where the patient is suffering for a long time

The most important thing to keep in mind when trying to prevent heart failure is to welcome certain lifestyle modifications. This mainly refers to the way the patient is living life — the diet, the daily routine, etc. “The patient must restrict salt intake as much as possible when trying to save the heart.”

Weight Management Is Important

One must keep a close check on their body weight which can be the reason for heart failure.

Giving The Body Enough Rest

One should also evaluate the sleeping pattern and keep sleep apnea at bay.

“There are some medications which can help with a heart failure situation. These medicines that are usually prescribed to heart patients to keep heart failure at bay are called ACE inhibitors or SGLT 2 inhibitors. These medicines help in reducing the stress on the heart like beta blockers, digoxin or ivabradine. Then there are also medicines that can help with unusual rhythm problems, known as blood thinners or antiplatelets.”

Talking about the treatment procedures for heart failure patients, Dr Deshpande said, “Some patients do require a surgical line of management or procedures. Some can be done without an open heart like coronary angiography or coronary angioplasty. Valve repair or valve replacement can also be done nowadays without an open heart. Certain device implantations might be required for certain groups of patients like pacemakers, implantable cardioverter defibrillators or ICD implantation or cardiac resynchronization therapy that is CRT device implantation. Certain patients require open heart procedures like coronary artery bypass procedures, valve replacement procedures, ventricular assist devices or VAD implantation procedures, or in certain situations where nothing works, the patient is listed for cardiac transplantation, which is the ultimate treatment for any patient with heart failure.

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