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Inability of the heart to provide enough blood rich in oxygen for the body is known as congestive heart failure. If something like this happens suddenly, a patient needs to be hospitalized immediately and treated for the symptoms, such as severe chest pain and breathing problems. Congestive heart failure may also be a chronic condition and in that case symptoms develop very slowly and can be treated accordingly.

Characteristic Symptoms and Causes of Congestive Heart Failure

Patients suffering from this condition usually experience shortness of breath, especially during any physical activity. Anything physical makes these patients extremely weak and tired. Many patients complain about coughing or breathing problems while in lying position. Swelling of the arms and legs is quite frequent among congestive heart failure patients, especially swelling of the legs or ankles. Although patients do not feel like eating, due to lack of appetite, swelling or edema (as it is also known) may increase their weight and cause further medical problems. Fluids may also accumulate in the liver, leading to potentially very intense abdominal pain and nausea.

End stage of congestive heart failure is characterized by chest pain, tiredness and seriously limited physical activities.

Diseases responsible for weakening of the heart muscle are common causes of congestive heart failure. These include diseases such as coronary heart disease, cardiomyopathy etc. However, certain lifestyle habits like alcoholism and age have also been recognized as contributing factors in the development of this condition.

What Can You Expect?

Congestive heart failure has severe consequences and merely 20% of patients diagnosed with this condition survive more than 10 years and some 50% survive 3 to 5 years after the diagnosis. According to statistical data, about 2% of American population suffers from this disease and 250.000 people die from this condition every year.

Since many of these patients are elderly, the exact cause of congestive heart failure and patient's general health determine the prognosis of the disease. Lifestyle and habits such as smoking and drinking alcohol have been known to contribute to bad prognosis for congestive heart failure patients.

Medical complications such as pulmonary edema or irregular heartbeat may decrease survival chances of congestive heart failure patients even more. Pulmonary edema can be held responsible for about 70% of female and about 80% of male patients’ deaths within 5 years after the moment of diagnosis. End stage of congestive heart failure does not have good prognosis and many times irregular heartbeat is determined as a cause of death of these patients.

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