Did you know that 6 million people are living with congestive heart failure? Even more staggering than this is that 1 in 5 Americans will develop congestive heart failure. You may hear congestive heart failure referred to as CHF or cardiac failure. The name of congestive heart failure is a bit of a misnomer. Having congestive heart failure doesn’t mean your heart has stopped working. However, it does mean that your heart is unable to carry out one of its most important functions. In an individual with congestive heart failure, the heart can’t pump enough blood to meet the body’s demand.
The heart’s weak pumping power results in a variety of adverse symptoms. These symptoms include shortness of breath, fatigue and tiredness. In addition, you may experience a condition called edema where fluid builds up in the feet, ankles and legs. This causes intense swelling. Another common effect of congestive heart failure is blood and fluid backed up in the lungs, which can result in a chronic cough.
So who is at risk for congestive heart failure? As is true for most heart conditions, the older you get, the greater the risk. Congestive heart failure is most prevalent in individuals 65 years and older. However, it’s important to note that this condition can affect all ages, including children. Additionally, if you have coronary artery disease, high blood pressure, or diabetes, make sure to stay carefully monitored for congestive heart failure. These diseases are a common cause of congestive heart failure. Men, African Americans, and overweight individuals are also at higher risk for the disease as well.
Be aware of any symptoms you may be feeling and keep an open conversation with your doctor. If you experience any symptoms of chronic heart failure, let your doctor know right away.