The strongest can sometimes fall, especially when pushed into a situation where they need to work too much – that is a good description of what happens when experiencing heart failure.
Such an occurrence is developed over an extended period of time with the accumulation of a multitude of factors and is a secondary disease, meaning, it results from another cardiovascular disease which includes long term hypertension, coronary artery disease, and vascular disease, or disease of the valves found in the heart – either one of these occurs before the person may see or feel any manifestations. During this phase, the heart is not able to pump sufficient amounts of blood throughout the body which stimulates the body to release epinephrine and norepinephrine from the sympathetic nervous system, which causes vasoconstriction increasing the blood pressure and at the same time urging the heart to pump more – thus when seen under an electrocardiogram (ECG), you will see a dysrhythmias of the heart. The heart then compensates by increasing the muscle mass of the heart which puts on a lot of stress on its part, and just like anything or anyone, putting too much stress while at the very same time working very hard, it is bound to get tired and just stop all together. Patients may feel fatigue due to the lack of enough blood circulating throughout the system, edema due to the vasoconstriction of the many vessels found in the body trying to preserve as much volume as it needs, and shortness of breath due to too much fluid accumulation in the body.
When addressing the issue of such a condition, we should be realistic and aim not at the cure of the disease but instead zone in on improving the quality of life of the patient by being symptom-sensitive, improving the patient’s functional status, and extend the survival of the patient. This can be done through gradually increasing one’s activities from simple range of motion exercises to a 30 minute walk or jog for at least three times a week – never too rigorous of an activity but at the earliest of stages, bed rest is most necessary; always watch over the diet and most of the time keep it low fat, and low salt; and try as much as possible to provide an environment that does not stimulate a rise in a patient’s cardiac workload – all of these can prevent the re-occurrence of heart failure from long term hypertension and coronary artery, but when it results from vascular disease, then that there is another entire story – a surgical technique known as minimally invasive mitral valve repair is necessary.