• What is Heart Failure?

    Animation Copyright © Milner-Fenwick
    Transcript
    Being diagnosed with heart failure can be scary.
    "I didn't realize how severe this sickness is."
    "I was scared. I was in denial. I kind of figured you know, with me only
    being forty-nine, this is not happening."
    Knowing what heart failure is and how it affects your body can help to relieve some of your fears so you can take the steps you need to reduce your symptoms and feel better.
    Heart failure is a weakening of the heart that can develop over a long period of time. Heart failure does not mean your heart has stopped or is about to stop.
    To learn more, let's take a look at how the heart normally works.
    The heart is a muscle that pumps oxygen and nutrient-rich blood through your body. With an oxygen-rich supply of blood, your body can carry out the normal activities of daily living. However, when you have heart failure, your weakened heart can't pump enough blood to meet your body's needs.
    To make up for the weakness, your body releases chemicals, called hormones, that help your heart pump. These hormones are helpful for the short term, but over time they change your heart, reducing your heart's pumping ability even more.
    When your heart isn't pumping blood effectively, less blood gets to all parts of the body. Your muscles weaken and begin to waste away, causing fatigue or tiredness.
    Your kidneys hold onto sodium and water. This increases fluid in your blood vessels.
    As more and more fluid builds up in the blood vessels, fluid begins to seep into surrounding tissues. This fluid can leak into your legs, ankles, feet and waist, causing congestion and edema, or swelling. And when the fluid leaks into your lungs, it is called pulmonary edema.
    All these changes can lead to symptoms, including: shortness of breath; cough; fatigue; sudden weight gain of two to three pounds in one day, or five pounds in a week; increased heart rate and increased thirst.
    Your heart failure may have been caused by high blood pressure or heart conditions, such as: coronary artery disease, heart attack, faulty heart valves, or a heart muscle disease called cardiomyopathy. Other heart disease risk factors, such as high cholesterol, diabetes and smoking can increase your risk of developing heart failure. Smoking also damages your heart; so if you smoke, you must quit.
    By knowing what heart failure is and how it affects your body, you can make heart healthy choices each day to reduce your symptoms. Heart failure may be scary, but you can take steps to keep it in control and feel better.
    Animation Copyright © Milner-Fenwick
  • LiveWell personal health survey

    How healthy are you really? Find out – free.Learn more

    It's time to stop guessing. If you want to make some changes but just aren't sure how, the free personal health survey from LiveWell is a great place to start.

  • HeartSHAPE Spotlight

    At risk for a heart attack? Learn more

    Fight heart disease and prevent heart attacks. HeartSHAPE® is a painless, non-invasive test that checks pictures of your heart for early-stage coronary disease.

  • Calories and Energy Needs

    Calorie NeedsLearn more

    How many calories do you need to eat each day to maintain your weight and fuel your physical activity? Enter a few of your stats into this calculator to find out.

  • Ideal Body Weight

    Ideal Body WeightLearn more

    Using body mass index as a reference, this calculator determines your ideal body weight range. All you need to do is enter your height.

  • Body Mass Index

    Body Mass IndexLearn more

    This tool considers your height and weight to assess your weight status.


  • Can we help answer your questions?

    Wellmont Nurse Connection is your resource for valuable health information any time, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Speak to a Nurse any time, day or night, at (423) 723-6877 or toll-free at 1-877-230-NURSE.