Heart Failure - Consumer Justice Foundation

Heart Failure

Written by Faith Anderson on March 23, 2011
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What is Heart Failure?

Heart failure is a condition in which the heart can no longer pump a sufficient amount of blood to the rest of the body. Heart failure is different than a heart attack because it is typically a chronic condition which develops over a long period of time whereas a heart attack happens suddenly. In some cases, the heart muscle can’t pump the blood out of the heart well enough, which is called systolic heart failure. Otherwise, the heart muscles may be stiff and unable to fill up with blood easily, which is called diastolic heart failure. Heart failure develops over time as the heart’s pumping action grows weaker. Regardless of the circumstances, heart failure means that the heart is no longer able to provide the body with oxygen-rich blood, which can cause severe complications and even death.

Symptoms of Heart Failure

The symptoms associated with heart failure often begin slowly and worsen over time, although some individuals with heart failure may suffer few to no symptoms at all. Common symptoms of heart failure are:

  • Fatigue, weakness, faintness
  • Difficult sleeping
  • Shortness of breath
  • Cough
  • Swelling of the feet and ankles
  • Swelling of the abdomen
  • Weight gain
  • Loss of appetite
  • Irregular or rapid pulse
  • Heart palpitations

Other, less common, symptoms of heart failure may include nausea and vomiting, decreased alertness or concentration, decreased urine production, and the need to urinate at night. Most symptoms associated with heart failure occur as a result of a fluid build-up in the body. As the heart grows weaker, victims of heart failure may struggle with fatigue and shortness of breath from simply crossing the room or getting dressed.

Complications and Treatment of Heart Failure

There are a number of complications with can develop as a result of progressive heart failure. If fluid builds up in the lungs, the victim may suffer from pulmonary edema, which requires emergency treatment. Other conditions associated with heart failure are irregular heart rhythms and total heart failure. There is currently no cure for heart failure, although certain treatments can help victims of heart failure live longer and more active lives. Treatment will depend upon the type and severity of the condition, but typically involves lifestyle changes, medication, and long-term care. In severe cases of heart failure or cases in which lifestyle changes or medication can no longer control symptoms, an individual may require more aggressive medical treatment or surgery. In some cases, an implant may be required, such as a pacemaker, an implantable cardioverter defibrillator, or a left ventricular assist device. For individuals suffering from end-stage heart failure for which medical treatment and traditional surgical procedures have failed, a heart transplant may be the only chance of survival.

How to Deal With Heart Failure

Unfortunately, heart failure is a relatively common condition, affecting approximately 5.7 million people in the United States and causing about 300,000 deaths each year. Heart failure is an extremely dangerous condition which can lead to a number of severe and potentially fatal complications. The heart is one of the most important organs in the body and damage or death of the heart muscle can result in irreversible damage. Because the heart supplies blood and oxygen to the rest of the organs and extremities, failure of the heart to pump adequate blood can have catastrophic consequences on every aspect of the body’s functioning.

Unfortunately, heart failure is commonly associated with the use of certain pharmaceutical medications. Victims suffering from serious injury resulting from the use of a defective drug are not at fault and deserve to receive reimbursement for their injuries. More and more defective drug lawsuits are being filed against drug manufacturing companies, many of which have resulted in millions of dollars being awarded to victims of defective drug injuries. If you or a loved one has suffered from heart failure and you believe pharmaceuticals to be the cause, contact a defective drug attorney to represent your case. Qualified defective drug lawyers are extremely experienced in defective drug litigation and can help victims of pharmaceutical drug injuries collect the compensation they are entitled to.

Posted Under: Drug Side Effects
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