February 01, 2019

Living with heart failure

Staying ahead of the symptoms

There are big health and longevity benefits to working closely with your doctor to address the common causes of heart failure.

Systolic heart failure and Diastolic heart failure

Your heart is made to work. However, heart damage or disease can cause the heart to work harder over longer periods of time. When this happens, heart muscle can gradually stretch and weaken or it can become stiffer. The result is heart failure, meaning your heart no longer has the ability to pump enough blood to meet all of your body's needs. It's a serious disease often with no cure, potentially causing uncomfortable symptoms or death.

If you have heart disease risk factors, addressing them can help keep the disease at bay. If heart failure develops, keeping risk factors under control — through medication use and lifestyle changes — can help you maintain a good quality of life, slow heart failure progression and help you live longer.

Two main types

The heart has two sides. The right side pumps blood coming from the body through the lungs to pick up oxygen. The left side pumps this now oxygenated blood back to the body. Heart failure can involve the right side, left side or both sides of the heart. However, it most commonly starts on the left side, then in later stages involves the right side with time.

Heart failure is divided into two main types. The types are based on the percentage of blood pumped out of your left ventricle, a measurement known as the ejection fraction. The two types include: