Complications of Congestive Heart Failure

To call your heart hard-working is a big understatement. Each day, your heart pumps about 100,000 times, circulating the 5.6 quarts of blood throughout your body three times every minute. When you have congestive heart failure, your heart isn’t pumping blood as efficiently as it should, which can lead to some serious complications.

If you’re one of the six million people living with congestive heart failure, the team of cardiology experts here at Advanced Cardiovascular Specialists feels that education is a great start for avoiding these serious complications.

Though our goal here isn’t to unnecessarily scare you, it’s important that you appreciate the far-reaching impact that congestive heart failure can have on your health.

Irregular heart rhythms

When your heart struggles to pump blood, you can develop an arrhythmia, which is an irregular heartbeat. Under normal circumstances, the two lower chambers of your heart (your ventricles) and the two upper changers (your atria) contract in harmony to move blood through your heart and lungs to pick up oxygen, which is then delivered to the rest of your body through your arteries.

With an arrhythmia, the chambers of your heart don’t work together well, which compromises your heart's ability to circulate enough oxygen-rich blood. Aside from not pumping your blood properly, an arrhythmia can allow your blood to stall, which places you at a greater risk of developing a blood clot, which can move to your brain and lead to a stroke.

Liver and kidney damage

Major organs like your liver and kidneys rely on a steady flow of blood to function well. When these organs don’t receive a regular supply of blood, it interferes with their ability to execute crucial functions, such as filtering waste and removing toxins from your body. 

Over time, the insufficient blood supply can lead to permanent damage in your kidneys or liver.

Lung function

With congestive heart failure, your heart may not be able to get blood into and out of your lungs quickly, which allows blood to back up in your lungs. This added pressure on the blood vessels in your lungs can allow fluids to build up in your air sacs (pulmonary edema), which can make breathing more difficult.

Loss of energy

Since your heart isn’t able to deliver oxygen sufficiently, you may become increasingly unable to engage in any activities that require physical exertion.

Living with congestive heart failure

Heart failure is a progressive disease, so early diagnosis is important. If we identify congestive heart failure, we can take some important steps to improve your health through:

If heart rhythm problems develop, we may recommend installing a cardioverter defibrillator or pacemaker. In advanced stages of heart failure, you may benefit from a left ventricular assist device (more commonly known as an LVAD), which helps your heart pump blood more effectively.

The most important step you can take when you have congestive heart failure is to have our cardiovascular team closely monitor your health. To get started, contact our office in Mountain View, California, to set up a consultation.

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