This page will explain what is congestive heart failure, what are the risk factors and symptoms, the link with sleep apnea, and how it can be treated.
The information will also help you understand how arteries become enveloped silently in inflammation and plaque, which may lead to heart failure, stroke, and heart attack.
Heart failure occurs if the heart cannot pump sufficient amount of blood to the rest of the body. So, when your body demand for energy, the cells, the brain, the lungs are not supplied properly because of a weakness in the heart itself.
Further more, fluid accumulates in the lungs, ankles, or legs, creating general fatigue and shortness of breath. If leg arteries are affected, you can experience fatigue or pain in the lower extremities, especially upon walking.
A good visual description of what happens in your body when you have congestive heart failure can be found in this video:
Heart failure usually occurs because of a weakness of the heart muscle. The heart then doesn't pump as strongly as it should. The most common cause of damage to the muscle is a heart attack, but it can also be due to:
For more info about the causes of heart failure, see other risk factors for CHF.
If you don't treat your heart disease, it can be dangerous. Ten of millions of people worldwide suffer from heart failure, and the number of patients has tripled over the last few decades.
If you have a mild congestive heart failure usually you will lead a normal life, but those with more severe heart failure will be restricted in what they can do: the weaker the heart, the greater the problem.
When your heart doesn't pump enough blood around the body, fluids builds up - edema - because there is not enough energy to push the fluid through the kidneys into your bladder.
For more info about other symptoms, see Symptoms of Congestive Heart Failure.
Before choosing a treatment, it is important to know the cause of heart failure, if it's mechanical, a muscle failure or a high blood pressure.
That's why you need to take some tests, like ECG, a chest X-ray, blood tests and an echo-cardiogram.
After you found out all the possible causes, your doctor can prescribe your congestive heart failure treatment.
For more info about other treatments, see Treatment for Congestive Heart Failure.
The most important thing of all, is to visit your doctor as soon as you see a symptom of congestive heart failure. Don't assume that if you know what is congestive heart failure you can treat yourself at home, without needing to see a doctor.
Don't try to lose weight or do exercise just knowing that is good to your heart. Your doctor should mention what diet should you take, what tablets, and what style of life is more appropriate for you.