What is heart failure?

Heart failure is one of the most common humanheart diseases. In order to understand what it is and why it arises, we have tounderstand our heart first.

How does the human heart work?

Our heart is a muscular organ which consists offour chambers: left atrium and ventricle, and right atrium and ventricle – commonly referred to as the left heart and the right heart. The right heartsends blood through the veins to the lungs, where it becomes rich with oxygen (pulmonary circuit). The left heart sends the oxygenated blood to all areas ofthe body, even to the remote ones (systemic circuit).

Every heartbeat is a simultaneous work of theleft and right hearts – contraction and relaxation. In an average person’slife, this process repeats itself about three billion times. As the heartcontracts, it sends the blood through the veins, arteries, and capillaries, soevery time it hits the walls of the blood vessels it creates a characteristicnoise which sounds like rhythmic pulsation – a person’s pulse. Our pulsedepends on many parameters, usually physical (exercise, the state of rest), butalso hormonal and emotional.

Being a complicated biological device, theheart is one of the most important organs in the human body, and, like anydevice, sometimes it can malfunction. To determine whether one’s heart ishealthy or not you cannot rely on photographs only. You need to apply a wholelot of techniques to determine the issues that the heart may experience. And oneof the most serious and common problems associated with the human heart isheart failure.

How does heart failure manifest itself?

Heart failure manifests itself like this: theheart, for some reason, loses its ability to deliver blood to the internal organs, which leads to numerous problems. This condition can develop due toleft ventricular dysfunction, right ventricular dysfunction, or a dysfunction of both ventriculars.

Heart failure can be classified according to the duration of the condition.

Acute decompensated heart failure

The main reasons for acute decompensated heart failure are: the rupturing of the left ventricular walls, myocardialinfarction, or acute mitral or aortic insufficiency. It can manifest itself ascardiogenic shock, pulmonary edema or cardiac asthma, and develops over aperiod ranging from a few hours to mere minutes.

Chronic heart failure

This kind of heart failure can develop over themonths or even years, while cardiac pathology is forming. The main reasons forchronic heart failure are congenital heart defect, chronic respiratory failure,arterial hypertension, and long-lasting anemia.

Depending on the patient’s overall health andthe developed symptoms, the condition can be divided into four classes.

Functional classification of heart failure

Class I: physical activity of the patient isnormal, but climbing to the third floor can cause shortness of breath.

Class II: fast walking or any climbing causesshortness of breath. A slight but noticeable decrease in the patient’sactivity. Slight exercising reveals symptoms of heart failure.

Class III: even small exercises or walking withnormal speed reveal symptoms of heart failure, which disappear if the patientis at rest.

Class IV: symptoms of heart failure are presenteven if the patient is at rest, and even the slightest exercise can causeserious malfunction of the circulatory system.

In the next article we’ll discuss the symptoms of heart failure.