Congestive heart failure is a condition where the heart is unable to pump blood efficiently. Of late, it has become quite a common heart disease among people. There are a number of factors that account for this condition and they are as follows:
- Previous history of coronary disease
- Congenital heart defects
- Damaged heart valves
- Earlier cardiac arrest
- Chronic high blood pressure
Typical symptoms of congestive heart failure are swelling of the legs and ankles, a swelling abdomen and difficulty in breathing. Since the heart is unable to pump efficiently, the blood tends to stagnate in certain areas which results in swelling. Usually the first signs are detected in the legs but can later affect other parts of the body. Breathing difficulty is the result of collection of fluid in the lungs which is aggravated when a person is in the lying position.
Some sufferers of congestive heart disease respond to treatment and are able to continue for several years. For others, surgery like valve replacement gives them a new lease of life. But such course of treatment is dictated by the severity of the disease. Yet others would not be able to survive without a heart transplant. But in many cases the disease deteriorates rapidly and the inevitable end comes soon. It is difficult to predict the rate of deterioration but congestive heart failure is a progressive disease.
Typical stages of dying from congestive heart failure are as follows:
- Initially there may be a slight feeling of fatigue with exercise, but not of such proportions so as to cause alarm.
- This condition becomes progressively worse with the patient experiencing pronounced fatigue and possible heart palpitations with limited exercise. The fatigue is often relieved with rest.
- The third stage is when the sufferer is comfortable only at rest. Regular daily tasks result in shortness of breath with accompanying fatigue. The person’s ability to function normally is severely impaired.
- In the final stage, even the smallest movements are difficult, bringing on difficulty in breathing and accompanying tiredness. At this point his movements are drastically curtailed as the slightest task imposes a strain on the heart. The inability of the heart to function properly becomes evident even at rest.
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