the difference between heart failure and other heart diseases

February 28, 2022

Heart failure can be confused with other types of heart disease. And while there is some symptom crossover, heart failure has specific causes unique to the condition.

Common Heart Diseases

Coronary artery disease (CAD): This condition is characterized by the hardening and narrowing of the arteries. It’s the most common type of heart disease and can cause chest pain and heart attacks.

Arrhythmia: Also known as heart rhythm disorder, arrhythmia is an irregular heartbeat. It occurs when there’s a disruption in the electrical signals that make the heart muscle pump.

Cardiomyopathy: This condition occurs when the heart muscle weakens, negatively affecting its ability to circulate blood. Long-term, heavy drinking and diabetes may cause cardiomyopathy, eventually leading to heart failure.

Atrial fibrillation: Electrical impulses cause the heart muscle to contract too quickly or irregularly to pump blood effectively.

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What is Heart Failure?

Heart failure occurs when the heart muscle sustains damage and can’t pump enough oxygenated blood to the body’s organs and tissues. The heart muscle enlarges and pumps faster to compensate.

The heart’s blood vessels narrow to elevate blood pressure during heart failure. Eventually, the body will redirect blood flow away from certain tissues, resulting in organ failure.

This condition can be caused by:

  • Heart diseases like CAD and cardiomyopathy
  • Heart attacks
  • Arrhythmia
  • Infection of the heart muscle
  • High blood pressure
  • Unregulated diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Excessive alcohol consumption

Symptoms of Heart Failure

Signs of heart failure aren’t always immediately apparent. Symptoms often come on slowly and take several months or years to progress.

Common signs of heart failure include:

  • Chest pain
  • Difficulty breathing, especially when lying down
  • Persistent coughing or wheezing
  • Rapid or irregular heartbeat
  • Mental confusion
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Swelling in the ankles, legs and abdomen
  • Weight gain from fluid retention
  • Lack of appetite

Heart Failure Prevention and Treatment

You can lower your risk for heart failure by following these heart-healthy tips:

  • Schedule annual physical exams and keep your primary physician updated on any health changes.
  • Maintain a healthy weight to avoid straining your heart.
  • Check your blood pressure daily.
  • Eat a heart-healthy diet.
  • Stay physically active and include aerobic exercises in your workout.
  • Quit smoking and don’t use tobacco products.
  • Talk to your doctor about scheduling a blood test, chest X-ray, EKG and other assessments to monitor your cardiac health.

Heart failure is a chronic condition that will worsen over time if not properly managed. Depending on the cause of your heart failure, you may be able to treat your symptoms and slow the progression of your condition.

Treating heart failure can include taking medications like beta-blockers, ACE inhibitors and diuretics. Certain procedures, surgery and therapy may be necessary depending on the severity of your condition.

Embassy Healthcare offers cardiac care to address the early signs and stages of heart failure. Contact us online or call 216-378-2050 for more information.