Heart failure is a serious condition and there is still no cure even today. It is good to note that many individuals with heart failure can lead a normal life if the condition is managed using healthy lifestyle modifications and medications. In addition, support from family and friends is highly beneficial.
A normal heart is a strong, muscular pump responsible for supplying blood continuously throughout the body. The heart is comprised of 4 chambers – 2 on the right and 2 on the left:
- 2 upper chambers (atria)
- 2 lower chambers (ventricle)
The right atria take in the deoxygenated blood from the body and drives it back into the lungs via the right ventricle where the blood is oxygenated. The oxygenated blood journeys from the lungs moving to the left atrium and the left ventricle where it is pumped throughout the body.
The pumping of blood to the lung cavity and throughout the body occurs as a sequence of organized contractions of the 4 chambers. For the proper functioning of the heart, the 4 chambers should beat in an organized manner.
Close look on heart failure
Heart failure is a long-lasting, progressive condition where the heart muscles could not adequately pump blood to meet with the requirements of the body for oxygen and blood. Essentially, the heart could not comply with its workload.
Initially, the heart compensates by:
- Growing bigger – if the heart chambers enlarges, it stretches more and contracts more strongly, thus it pumps more blood. If the heart is enlarged, the body starts to retain fluid, lungs become congested with fluid and the heart beats erratically.
- Increasing the muscle mass – this occurs due to the enlargement of the contracting cells of the heart. This allows the heart to pump strongly, at least initially.
- Pumping more rapidly – this helps increase the output of the heart.
The body also attempts to compensate such as the narrowing of the blood vessels to maintain the blood pressure up. The body also diverts blood away from the less vital organs and tissues.
It is important to note that these temporary measures simply mask the issue of heart failure, but will not solve it. The condition continues and worsens until these replacement measures ceases to function.
Over time, the heart and the body could no longer keep up and the individual experience symptoms such as breathing issues or fatigue that urge him/her to see a doctor.
Quick Note / Disclaimer
The material posted on this page on heart failure is for learning and educational purposes only. To learn to recognize and manage circulatory issues including heart failure, register for a first aid and CPR course with one of our training providers.