The specialists at DMC Medical Group deliver advanced cardiac care in a respectful and welcoming environment. Turn to us to diagnose and treat cardiovascular conditions including heart failure. While there is no cure for heart failure, there are ways to manage this condition and to continue leading a full life.
Understanding Heart Failure
Heart failure does not mean the heart has completely stopped working. It occurs when the heart does not effectively pump blood the way it should. As a result, the body does not receive the oxygen-rich blood it needs to function properly. The heart will try to compensate by enlarging, becoming more muscular, and pumping faster; however, these are not sustainable over a long period of time. The body will also try to divert blood away from less important tissue or organs as well as narrow blood vessels to maintain blood pressure. This progressively gets worse which is why heart failure is characterized by four distinct stages.
The Four Stages of Heart Failure
Individuals with high blood pressure, diabetes, and coronary heart disease are at this first stage of heart failure. The heart is still functioning properly, and the risk of heart failure can be reversed with the appropriate changes to diet and lifestyle.
At this stage, there are most likely no symptoms yet, but damage to the heart has already been caused. Generally, this stage is when the left side of the heart is not pumping well or if you have already sustained damage from a heart attack or cardiomyopathy.
Fatigue and shortness of breath begin to set in, especially during regular activities like climbing the stairs. Changes to the structure of the heart have taken place and you may be prescribed beta-blockers or other medications.
Known as advanced heart failure, this stage is the most severe and life threatening. Even when at rest you may experience symptoms such as shortness of breath, nausea, coughing, and loss of appetite. The plan for treatment will depend on your individual health but may require surgery or more advanced care.
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The first line of defense is to be proactive about prevention. From there, treatments are implemented to slow progression and maintain the highest level of function possible. Rely on DMC Medical Group to work closely with you during your diagnosis and treatment journey. We always strive for the best outcome possible.