Our heart can be compared to the central warehouse of a nationwide supply chain system. The fleet of vehicles is our blood, transporting oxygen and nutrients to all parts of the body. The arteries and veins are the highways with secondary roads connecting cities. Normally the system is working efficiently. But what would happen if the supply was disrupted. Trucks with goods would be jammed and empty trucks would be stranded at remote areas. Customers would not get supplies. This is what happens during heart failure.
Disease, injury, and years of wear and tear take a toll on the hearts pumping ability. When the muscles of the heart struggle to circulate blood efficiently, a cascade of physiological changes is set in motion. Heart failure is not a disease. It is a set of diverse symptoms.
Working of the healthy heart
The heart contract and relaxes approximately 100,000 times a day. The cardiovascular system comprises a complex network of channels that convey oxygen, nutrients and waste products to and away from your organs. Your heart, the size of two fists, propels a Herculean 2,000 gallons of blood daily. Extending from the heart is a network of blood vessels that reach to the farthest areas of the body. Laid end to end, these vessels would stretch more than 60,000 miles.
What is the mechanism of heart failure?
The mechanism of heart failure may start with injury from heart attack, develop due to damaged valves, or be brought on by an infection or a disease. Many times, it is a product of years of toil against high blood pressure and clogged arteries. Heart failure culminates in a progressive weakening of your heart’s ability to pump. Consequently, blood circulates through your heart and body more slowly; your cells get less oxygen and nutrients. Outward signs may remain hidden for months or even years while heart failure advances. To compensate for its weakened state, the heart undergoes a series of structural transformations known as cardiac remodeling. To expel blood more forcefully the walls of the left heart chamber thicken, or the chamber may dilate and take on a rounder shape, which allows it to hold larger amount of blood. Levels of stress hormones, which signal the heart to beat faster and harder in times of need, rise. Blood vessels constrict to keep blood pressure stable even though lower quantity of blood is being pumped out. Circulation is diverted away from the skin and other less important tissues so that the heart and brain receive a steady supply of oxygen and nutrients. The reduced flow of blood to the kidneys activates a set of hormones that prompt the body to retain sodium and fluid to supplement the total volume of circulating blood. These fixes enable the heart to deliver a near-normal level of blood to the tissues. This is a temporary solution. The heart’s modified shape increases the stress on the muscle as it attempts to consume more oxygen. The faster heartbeat and narrowed blood vessels amplify the hearts workload, and the costs of the additional yield outweigh the advantages of increased output.
Symptoms of heart failure
The brain doesn’t get enough oxygen.
Excess fluid backs up from the heart into the lungs.
Shortness of breath
Fluid in the lungs causes difficulty in breathing.
Coughing and wheezing
Fluid in the lungs causes these problems.
Less blood reaches the muscles.
Loss of appetite
Accumulation of fluid in liver and stomach causes feelings of nausea.
The build-up of fluid causes an increase in body weight.
Change in skin color
Blood is diverted to vital organs, causing skin to get cold and take on a bluish color.
Swelling in feet, legs and abdomen
Excess fluid settles in tissues.
Causes of heart failure
The defining characteristic of heart failure is a malfunctioning cardiac muscle. This can happen due to many reasons.
Coronary artery disease
Two out of three cases of heart failure can be traced to coronary heart disease, the narrowing of arteries that feed the heart muscle cells.
Dying heart disease
When one of the fatty deposits on the inside of the artery wall bursts open, the blood forms a clot. If the clot is formed in one of the arteries that feed the heart muscle, it can cut off the flow of oxygen to the tissue beyond the clot. This is called a myocardial infraction, or heart attack.
The higher the blood pressure, the harder the heart must work. The heart muscle thickens in response to pumping against extra resistance. The thickened muscle consumes more oxygen. It also cannot fully relax between contractions. Then the heart muscle gradually stops beating as forcefully as it should. High blood pressure precedes heart failure in 75% of cases.
This is a term used to describe a number of diseases that result from damage to the heart muscle.
Heart valve damage
Faulty heart valves that don’t open or close efficiently put additional strain on the heart.
Over time, uncontrolled Diabetes weakens the heart muscle by causing coronary artery disease.
Heart rhythm disturbances
An abnormally fast heartbeat can produce structural changes in the heart’s left ventricle.
Our heart is a very important organ because it supplies oxygen and nutrients to all parts of our body. Whether you are suffering from heart disease, or Diabetes or even cancer, you heal yourself, that too without any medicinal intervention.