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Heart Failure

Congestive Heart Failure

With heart failure, also known as congestive heart failure, the heart muscle is weak or damaged and therefore unable to pump fresh blood as strongly as it should. When that happens, the rest of the body doesn’t get enough oxygen. 

Heart failure can affect the left, right, or both sides of the heart. Right-sided heart failure primarily affects the lungs. Left-sided heart failure can either be systolic or diastolic. Systolic heart failure occurs when the heart cannot efficiently pump blood to the organs and throughout the body. Diastolic heart failure occurs when the heart becomes stiff and is not able to rest between heart beats, causing the heart to pump smaller amounts of blood throughout the body.

Heart Failure Symptoms

You may not notice the signs of heart failure until they’ve been developing for some time. Heart failure symptoms result from a lack of oxygenated blood throughout your body, and can include:

  • Chest pain
  • Chronic cough
  • Fatigue
  • Unexpected weight-gain
  • Weakness
  • Abnormal heart beat
  • Loss of appetite 
  • Stomach pain
  • Swollen abdomen, feet, or ankles
  • Shortness of breath, even when you’re resting
  • Rapid weight-gain, caused by fluid buildup

The more urgent symptoms of heart failure are chest pain, congested cough, increased shortness of breath, and difficulty breathing. If you experience any of these symptoms, call 911 immediately.

Causes of Heart Failure

Congestive heart failure often occurs as a complication of other heart diseases, such as heart attack, hypertension, heart valve diseases, and arrhythmia. Additional risk factors for heart failure include:

  • Age (65 years or older)
  • Diabetes
  • Drinking too much alcohol
  • Family history of heart disease
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Obesity
  • Acute anemia
  • Smoking
  • Infections
  • Toxic medications

Your primary care practitioner and other heart care specialists at Bassett Healthcare Network can work with you to make heart-healthy lifestyle choices that can decrease your risk of heart failure and prevent heart complications as well.

Heart Failure Treatment

Beyond making recommendations around nutrition, exercise, and smoking cessation, the cardiology team at Bassett Healthcare Network treats heart failure by managing any underlying illnesses and prescribing medications to improve your symptoms. 

In some instances, you may be given oxygen both to make breathing easier and to increase the oxygen levels in your body. Following an exercise program, eating a heart-healthy diet with less salt, and maintaining a healthy weight are all part of preventing and treating heart failure.

Get a Referral for a Heart Failure Diagnosis

If you think you may be experiencing congestive heart failure, talk to your primary care practitioner about scheduling an appointment with one of Bassett Healthcare Network’s expert cardiologists. 

Bassett Healthcare Network provides education, monitoring, and risk management for heart failure in Delhi, Oneonta, Cooperstown, Cobleskill, Herkimer, Little Falls, and other locations across Central New York.