What is Heart Failure?

By | 15 April 2021

Heart failure is a clinical picture that occurs as a result of the heart’s inability to send the necessary and sufficient blood to the tissues and organs as a result of decreased heart performance.

İt can develop at any age, but its incidence increases with advancing age. In society, it increases up to 15% at the age of 85. It is the most common cause of hospitalization in people over 65 years of age.


– Shortness of breath

Shortness of breath is the most common complaint in heart failure. It is observed in almost all patients with heart failure. It first occurs after heavy exertion (eg climbing stairs). As the disease progresses, it leaves the patient in the need to stop and rest with lighter effort (e.g. walking on a straight road).


It can be felt as palpitations, regular beats, or irregular beats as a sign of heart failure. You may think that your palpitation complaint is correct if the heart rate at rest exceeds 90-100 per minute.

– Quick Fatigue

In patients with heart failure, initially during heavy activities (running, climbing stairs, etc.), as the disease progresses, lighter activities (walking on a straight road, etc.) ), rapid fatigue and exhaustion complaints are seen.
Fatigue and exhaustion occur as a result of less blood reaching the muscles and tissues due to the heart’s reduced pumping ability.

– Foot or Leg Swelling

Foot and leg swelling develops as a result of fluid accumulation in the body. This could be a sign that heart failure is getting worse. As the swelling occurs in the feet, the shoes worn daily start to feel narrower. Swelling in the legs leaves a scar for a while when pressed with the finger. The swelling of the feet and legs increases later in the day due to the effect of gravity. The swelling usually subsides after lying down or resting.

Abdominal Swelling or Pain

Pain or swelling in the upper abdomen (stomach area) may develop due to fluid accumulation in the body.

– Fast Weight Gain

If heart failure causes fluid accumulation, there may be a rapid weight gain.
It is important to monitor weight after daily morning urine. If you have more than 2 kg weight gain within a few days, you should inform your doctor or nurse.


Persistent cough and wheezing may be seen due to it. Although wheezing is similar to patients with asthma, the cause is different in it. Cough that starts after a period of time after sleeping at night and awakens the patient is accepted as the equivalent of shortness of breath in heart failure. People with heart failure can sometimes produce thick, slimy sputum that is stained with blood slightly with a cough.

– Dizziness, Loss of Attention, Fainting, Drowsiness

Complaints such as fainting, dizziness, and dizziness in those with heart failure are due to decreased blood flow to the brain. Fainting is a sudden loss of consciousness and means that blood flow to the brain is severely reduced.

Chest Pain

Since 2/3 of the patients with heart failure accompany the cardiovascular disease, chest pain due to cardiovascular disease is among the common complaints. In such cases, chest pain is usually felt on the chest, but can also be felt in any area between the lower jaw and the navel.

Loss of Appetite / Nausea

There may be loss of appetite or nausea in heart failure. Although some patients eat very little, a feeling of fullness or bloating in the stomach may be observed. These complaints may be accompanied by abdominal pain and a feeling of tension in the abdomen.

Complaints – Summary

If any of the following conditions are present, it is recommended to consult a doctor.

Shortness of breath

  • Shortness of breath with simple activities or climbing stairs
  • Shortness of breath that develops when resting or lying flat
  • Waking up from sleep at night with shortness of breath
  • Needing to increase the number of pillows to sleep

– Weakness – fatigue

  • Quick fatigue
  • Swelling (edema) in the feet, ankles, or legs
  • General tiredness


  • Coughing frequently
  • Thick slimy sputum that is stained with blood


Heart failure can only be diagnosed by a physician. The possibility of It will be revealed as a result of an examination performed in the light of your clinical history and complaints. Doctors usually order a series of tests to confirm the diagnosis. Most of these tests are simple and painless. The most commonly used of these tests is “echocardiogram” (heart ultrasound). With an echocardiographic examination of the heart, information about the heart chambers, heart walls, and heart valves can be obtained and the pumping power of the heart can be measured directly.


Early diagnosis and treatment are very important in the treatment of it. Today, with physician-patient cooperation, many heart failure patients can continue their normal daily lives. If you have been diagnosed with It, some medications will be started by your physician and you will be recommended to change your lifestyle as required by your illness.

Lifestyle Changes of the Heart Failure Patient

Heart failure is a chronic disease and requires lifelong treatment. In addition to regularly using the medications given by the doctor, the patient with heart failure should adapt to the lifestyle changes listed below to get the most benefit from the treatment, to prevent the deterioration that may occur in the clinical picture, and to prevent the progress of the disease.

1.Tracking body weight

Patients with heart failure are recommended to measure and record their body weight with the same weight every day at the same time (after going to the toilet in the morning) and report sudden weight gains that may occur within a few days to the doctor.

2. Restricting salt consumption

Restricting salt intake is one of the most important lifestyle changes for patients with heart failure.

3.Control of fluid intake

Excess salt intake alone can cause fluid retention in the body, and excess fluid intake alone can increase the amount of body fluid and worsen the picture of heart failure.

4. Restricting alcohol intake

Although it is said that a small amount of alcohol consumption is beneficial in preventing coronary artery disease, excessive alcohol consumption in the case of it is harmful by increasing heart rate and blood pressure in the short term and causing a further decrease in cardiac performance in long term use. Alcohol intake should be stopped completely.

5. Regulation of potassium intake in the diet

6. Reducing fat and cholesterol intake

7.Activity and exercise in heart failure

It is not desirable for patients with heart failure to significantly restrict their daily activities and to stick to a sedentary lifestyle at home. Studies show that mild and regular exercise activities in patients with heart failure, as prescribed by the doctor, increase the quality of life and protect the performance of the people.

9. Quitting smoking

The carbon monoxide in cigarette smoke reduces the blood’s ability to carry oxygen. Thus, the heart has to work harder to provide enough oxygen to the body. Smoking also contributes to the accumulation of fat residues in the blood vessels, causing narrowing of the vessels and the occurrence of a heart attack in those with cardiovascular disease. During smoking, a certain degree of contraction/spasm occurs in all body vessels, including the heart vessels, the heart rate increases, and the blood pressure tends to rise. Due to this, the symptoms of heart failure may get worse. For this reason, smokers should quit smoking, receive supportive treatments if necessary, and avoid smoking environments and passive smoking.