What is Heart Failure

A pre-diagnosis of heart failure usually presents itself as several of the common symptoms.

In many cases, but not all, there will be a reason why a person has heart failure; these are also listed on this page. However, sometimes a cause may not be known, which is called idiopathic.

Your healthcare team, GP and their Practice Team must recognise the symptoms of heart failure. There is a simple blood test called an NT-proBNP that can be administered to rule out heart failure.

Currently, in the UK, if this blood test comes back with a figure over 400, you should be referred within six weeks for further tests and investigations, including an ECG, ECHO Scan or an MRI Scan. If the figure is over 2000, you should be urgently referred for other tests and investigations, including an ECG, ECHO Scan or an MRI Scan.

Unless you have had a heart scan by an ECHO or MRI scan interpreted by a specialist, you don’t have a diagnosis of heart failure.

Once a specialist has interpreted your tests and investigations, only then will a Cardiologist specialising in heart failure give you a diagnosis which must be at a face-to-face meeting.

Heart failure? It doesn’t mean your heart is about to stop!

What is heart failure? It does not mean your heart is about to stop. Heart failure is an unfortunate phrase which describes a set of conditions. The Pumping Marvellous Foundation like to call heart failure “heart inefficiency” or just HF. However, you describe it; it means that your heart is not working correctly. Many different conditions can cause heart failure. The reality is that they all affect your heart’s ability to pump nutrient-rich oxygenated blood around the body.

It is essential to point out that each of these symptoms is not unique to heart failure and may be caused by other conditions, e.g. COPD, however, if you have a combination of the common symptoms we would suggest you go to your GP to point these out.
At the side, you can see a list of conditions which can cause heart failure.

  • Fluid retention – swelling of the ankles and or legs and the tummy
  • Extreme tiredness
  • Breathlessness – especially when lying flat, like in bed

Other symptoms can include

  • A persistent cough
  • Lack of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • High heart rate

It is important to point out that each of these symptoms is not unique to heart failure and can be caused by other conditions e.g. COPD, however if you have a combination of the common symptoms we would suggest you go to your GP to point these out.

 

Below you can see a list of conditions that can lead to heart failure include:

  • Coronary heart disease – where the arteries that supply blood to the heart become clogged up with fatty substances (atherosclerosis), which may cause angina or a heart attack
  • High blood pressure – this can put extra strain on the heart, which over time can lead to heart failure conditions affecting the heart muscle (cardiomyopathy)
  • Heart rhythm problems (arrhythmias), such as atrial fibrillation damage or other problems with the heart valves
  • Congenital heart disease – birth defects that affect the normal workings of the heart
  • Sometimes obesity, anaemia, drinking too much alcohol, an overactive thyroid or high pressure in the lungs (pulmonary hypertension) can also lead to heart failure.

Visit the Heart Failure page on the NHS website

Secret sauce

Dictionary – “A special quality or feature regarded as the chief factor in the success of something or someone.”

So, what’s your “Secret Sauce?” What makes you tick?

At Pumping Marvellous, we know it takes some real inner drive to live well with heart failure. Pumping Marvellous are Secret Sauce catalysts; we draw out people’s inner Secret Sauce, people’s superpowers and enable other people to learn from other people’s experiences.

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About us

Who, What, Why?

We are the Pumping Marvellous Foundation, the UK’s heart failure patient-led charity. Find out more about why we do what we do.
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The Pumping Marvellous Foundation are a UK patient led heart failure charity. To find out how you can get involved read more.
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The Pumping Marvellous charity shop is full of our own branded merchandise. By purchasing our merchandise, you will help us fund our projects.
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