Also known as congestive heart failure, heart failure is a very common condition that develops after one’s heart is damaged or weakened by heart disease such as heart attacks and other coronary disorders. Heart Failure takes place when the pumping action of the heart is not strong to move the blood around. The blood carries nutrients and oxygen so that one’s body functions properly, this is needed more when one’s body is under stress or you undergo physical activity. Heart failure may also happen when the muscles of the heart are not able to relax properly so as to accommodate flow of blood to the heart back from the lungs.

These abnormalities in functioning of the heart may cause fluid to back in to your lungs and other parts of the body as well such as the ankles. Lack of oxygen and the congestion caused in the lungs may cause the patient to feel tired and may experience shortness of breath. The fluid in the lungs could also accumulate to cause a life threatening condition, which is known as pulmonary edema and needs emergency treatment.

While heart failure is a critical condition, there is no cure. However, there are a few lifestyle changes and treatment options available that one can take on to manage the condition. In fact, if one is completely dedicated, there is chance that they can live a normal life as well. The first step towards preventing heart failure is understanding the condition of your heart.

When congestion occurs in the heart and it is unable to pump blood well, one may experience the following symptoms.

1) Increase in shortness of breath, especially when lying flat.
2) Sudden gain of weight of about 3 pounds (1.5 Kgs) over just one or two days or about 5 pounds (2.5 Kgs) in one week.
3) Feeling full or feeling bloated all the time
4) Symptoms of cough and cold that last longer than a week
5) Extreme tiredness and loss of energy
6) Change in appetite or loss of appetite
7) Increase in swelling of the feet, legs, ankles, base of the spine (sacrum) or around the stomach area.
8) Increase in urination at night time.

It is important for patients and people around them to recognize these signs of heart failure. Seeing a doctor immediately when these signs and symptoms occur is necessary.

There are many underlying risk factors and causes for heart failure. One of the most common causes however, is damage that is caused to the muscles of the heart after a heart attack. A heart attack usually occurs when the arteries that supply oxygen and blood to the heart muscles are blocked. When this happens, the heart does not get oxygen and may be permanently damaged.

Hypertension is the second most common cause of heart failure. If this condition is not diagnosed and is left untreated for a long time, this could lead to heart failure and therefore it is extremely important for one to get their blood pressure checked from time to time and do as the doctor advises.

Other causes that can lead to heart failure are: heart valve disease where heart valves become too narrow or leak and cause the heart not to work properly. Endocarditis or Myocarditis – an infection that causes an inflammation of the heart muscles. Excessive use of drugs or alcohol could also cause heart failure. Diabetes, being overweight, high blood cholesterol, heart muscle disease and other medical conditions such as anemia and thyroid could also lead to heart failure.

Managing Heart Failure
While today there is no known cure for heart failure, an early diagnosis and changes to one’s lifestyle and taking the right medication can help one lead a normal and even active life.

Below are a few steps that one should follow if one wants to lead a normal life:

1) Medication should be taken regularly and on time.

2) A healthy diet should be followed, speaking to a Registered Holistic Nutritionist can help you devise a diet that helps you lead a healthy and normal life. Try to include lots of fruits and vegetables along with plenty of whole grains, and low fat or lean meats are a good addition to your diet as well.

3) Try and avoid salt, if you can’t then try and consume less than 2000 mg of salt. Keep an eye out for foods than are high in sodium content and avoid them, read product labels carefully while making a choice.

4) Do not consume more than 2 litres of fluid in a day. This includes beverages such as water, juice, milk, tea, water and soups as well.
Half your fluid intake should comprise of water. Your health care practitioner should be consulted on the right amount of fluid intake, which will be decided depending upon one’s body’s sodium levels.

5) Fibre intake is a must. Restricted fluid levels and diuretics may make you feel constipated and this could cause a strain on your heart.

6) Reduce alcohol intake and do not have ore than 150 ml of wine, 350 ml of beer, 50 ml of spirits. In certain heart failure conditions, all kinds of alcohol should be avoided.

7) Caffeine consumption should be avoided to prevent abnormal heart rhythms and increased heart rate.

Speak with a Registered Holistic Nutritionist to learn other lifestyle changes that you will need to make, foods that will be good for you in this condition and also meet with a Homeopath to learn how the alternate route of Homeopathy can do good to your heart.