Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Congestive Heart Disease Information

Congestive heart disease is a physical disorder in which the heart no longer pumps hard enough. Since the heart pumps weakly, blood can back up into the lungs, liver, gastrointestinal tract, and extremities.

Congestive heart disease is also called congestive heart failure (CHF), cardiac failure, or heart failure. These names can be misleading, since they seem to indicate that the heart has totally failed and that death is imminent. This is not the case. Congestive heart disease is nearly always a chronic, long-term condition, although it does sometimes develop suddenly.

How Common Is Congestive Heart Disease?

Of 100 people between the ages of 27 and 74, approximately 2 have congestive heart disease. That means about 6 million people in the U.S. are affected by the disease. After age 74, congestive heart disease becomes more common. It is said to be the leading cause of hospitalization among senior citizens.

Causes of Congestive Heart Disease

Congestive heart disease has many causes. They include, but are not limited to, the following causes:

* Weakening of the heart muscle due to viral infections. The weakness may also be caused by toxins such as alcohol abuse.

* Weakening of the heart muscle by coronary artery disease that has led to heart attacks.

* Weakening of the heart muscle by heart valve disease that involves large amounts of blood leakage.

* Heart muscle stiffness caused by a blocked heart valve.

* Uncontrolled high blood pressure, also called hypertension.

* High levels of the thyroid hormone.

* Excessive use of amphetamines ("speed").

Symptoms of Congestive Heart Disease

Either side of the heart muscle may weaken and cause congestive heart disease. The symptoms of congestive heart disease depend on the side of the heart that is affected. They can include these:

* asthma that can be attributed to the heart

* blood pooling in the body's overall circulation

* blood pooling in the liver's circulation

* enlargement of the heart

* shortness of breath

* skin color that appears bluish or dusky

* swelling of the body, especially the extremities

Congestive Heart Disease Risk Factors

As is true with most heart disease, family history is a major risk factor for congestive heart disease. Genetics cannot easily be altered. Age is a second risk factor that cannot be changed. Congestive heart disease is particularly prevalent among older people.

Aside from those two, however, risk factors can and should be addressed. Here are 7 risk factors for congestive heart disease that you may want to discuss with your health care provider.

1. High blood pressure: This is the highest risk factor for congestive heart disease! Men with uncontrolled high blood pressure are twice as likely as those with normal blood pressure to suffer congestive heart disease. If a woman has uncontrolled high blood pressure, she is three times as likely as women with normal blood pressure to develop congestive heart disease.

2. Heart Attacks: This is the second highest risk factor for congestive heart disease. Those who have had heart attacks that resulted in damage to the heart muscle, and scarring of the muscle tissue, have increased risks of experiencing congestive heart disease.

3. High Cholesterol: Showing high levels of cholesterol, particularly when levels of HDL are low, is listed as another risk factor for congestive heart disease.

4. Diabetes: Both type 1 and type 2 diabetes are risk factors for developing congestive heart disease.

5. Obesity: Men and women who are overweight unnecessarily increase their risks of experiencing congestive heart disease. The heart must work harder when the body is not at a healthy weight, and can begin to lose its ability to deliver blood efficiently.

6. Prolonged Physical Inactivity: A sedentary lifestyle, with little exercise, puts people at risk for congestive heart disease, especially as they increase in age. The heart needs cardiovascular exercise to remain strong and able to function well.

7. Smoking: Smoking increases the heart's workload. It also affects the lungs. This is a risk for congestive heart disease that anyone can eliminate.

Discover The Symptoms of Heart Disease

Symptoms of Heart Disease

The most common symptoms of heart disease, other than angina, include shortness of breath, palpitations, irregular or quickened heartbeat, weakness, dizziness, nausea and sweating.

Angina or angina pectoris is the medical term used to describe chest pain. Heart disease treatment may include drug therapy, surgery or implantation of a device to help maintain proper heart rhythm, such as a pacemaker or ICD.

The common symptoms of heart disease are also the primary symptoms of heart attacks. In short, anyone who experiences the symptoms of heart disease should see their doctor immediately.

Evaluation by a physician is necessary to determine which heart disease treatment is appropriate, assuming any treatment at all is needed. Self-diagnosis or self-treatment of chest pain is never appropriate. Never forget that a heart attack does permanent damage to the muscle of the heart.

There are a number of different diseases of the heart. The aforementioned symptoms of heart disease pertain to coronary artery disease, which is a narrowing of the blood vessels leading to the heart due to a build up of fats and plaque.

Heart disease treatment and risk factors mentioned below also pertain primarily to coronary artery heart disease since this is one of the most common of all heart dieases.

Treatment for coronary artery disease or atherosclerosis can be quite effective and can actually reverse the disease process over time. Attention to blood pressure and cholesterol levels may prevent coronary artery disease, which is why regular check-ups, including blood pressure and cholesterol checks, are so important.

Being male is considered one of the major uncontrollable risk factors for developing heart disease. Other uncontrollable risk factors include older age and genetics. In women, there is an increased risk of heart disease associated with a decrease in natural estrogen levels that occur after menopause or after removal of the ovaries, but hormone replacement therapy, thought to reduce the risk of heart disease at one time, is no longer considered beneficial for the purpose.

Risk factors for developing coronary artery disease that are considered controllable include: high cholesterol, high blood pressure, improper diet, obesity, lack of exercise, smoking, chronic stress, uncontrolled diabetes and inflammation of the arteries. A blood test for C-reactive protein is a particularly important test, as it may reveal the presence of inflammation of the arteries.

Although the symptoms of heart disease may include quickened heart rate, increased heart rate during exercise does not damage the heart. The heart was meant to be active. It is a muscle and like any other muscle of the body, it will weaken from lack of use. Regular aerobic exercise can strengthen the cardiovascular system, improve circulation and even improve the symptoms of heart disease, including heart failure. Most doctors recommend regular exercise as part of a complete heart disease treatment program.

In addition, a regular exercise program, along with a reasonable diet, can help a person maintain a normal healthy weight. When obesity is a factor, even the best heart disease treatment options may be ineffective.

People who have had surgery as a heart disease treatment reduce the risk that their arteries will become narrow again by following practical dietary and exercise recommendations.

Symptoms of heart disease, such as shortness of breath and feelings of weakness may be relieved by beginning a regular exercise program and making dietary changes. Of course, no one who has been diagnosed with heart disease should begin an exercise program without first consulting their doctor.

Other health benefits of a regular exercise program that are directly related to coronary artery disease include decreased blood pressure, reduced LDL (bad) cholesterol levels and improved sleep.

Sleep apneas, a condition in which breathing stops for a short time during sleep, commonly occurs in people who are inactive and overweight and has been associated with both high blood pressure and heart disease.

One more factor that has been linked to both coronary artery disease and kidney disease is a high homocysteine level. Homocysteine is an amino acid found in meat. High levels of homocysteine are associated with low levels of B6, B12 and folic acid. Increasing intake of B vitamins and folic acid can break down homocysteine. Folic acid and the B-vitamins are found primarily in fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Other substances found in vitamins, minerals and other food compounds and believed to be important for heart health are called antioxidants.

Antioxidants fight substances called free radicals, which can cause cellular damage that leads to the development of heart disease. One of the richest source of antioxidants currently known is a fruit called the mangosteen. Also a good source of B vitamins and folic acid, this Asian fruit is only available in most areas in the form of a juice or puree.

Research has proven that the mangosteen contains powerful anti-inflammatories. Unlike synthetic anti-inflammatories which can be ineffective and have unwanted side effects, scientists believe that natural anti-inflammatories have no side effects and are more effective, because they target a large group of inflammatory responses.

Current heart disease treatment can be effective if those who suffer from the disease make the necessary lifestyle and dietary changes. Anyone can benefit from efforts to correct controllable risk factors. In addition, making dietary and lifestyle changes can prevent the symptoms of heart disease from progressing to heart attack or heart failure.