For most of us “heart failure” sounds like the heart becomes completely unable to work.

The truth is that in this issue the heart loses ability to pump blood through the vessels effectively.

In fact, everything in your organism hangs upon the proper functioning of the muscular fist-sized structure, located in the chest.

Your heart is made of four cavities: right and left atria (upper chambers) and corresponding two ventricles (lower chambers).

Credit: Freepik

Credit: Freepik

Oxygen-poor blood, gathered from the whole body, reaches the right atrium and then runs through the right ventricle to the lungs. There blood gets filled with oxygen. After that it travels to the left upper chamber. Left ventricle attains this oxygenated blood and pumps it to all organs and tissues in your body.

In heart failure, muscle (myocardium) becomes too weak to deliver blood adequately. As a result, circulation becomes disrupted, and fluid tends to build up in the lungs, abdomen and extremities.

Statistics says that nearly 6 million Americans suffer from heart failure.

If not treated, heart failure may significantly impair your quality of life and even lead to dangerous consequences.

Credit: Freepik

Credit: Freepik

Let's what you need to know about heart failure:

#1. It's not the same with heart attack and heart arrest – heart attack means that a part of the heart muscle dies because of the blockage in one or several coronary arteries (vessels, which supply blood to the heart). Cardiac arrest is a sudden stop of the heart beats and blood circulation that results in quick deaths, if left untreated during several minutes. Heart failure, in turn, means inability to pump blood effectively. It’s a chronic condition, which progresses and becomes worse with time.

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#2. There are several types of heart failure – this trouble may affect right or left ventricle. Sometimes both lower chambers lose their pumping function at the same time. Moreover, heart failure may be caused by systolic dysfunction (when heart muscle can't contract normally),or occur because of diastolic failure (when myocardium becomes too stiff that impairs heart filling with blood).

Credit: Freepik

Credit: Freepik

#3. Some conditions may boost your risks – heart failure is commonly a result of conditions, which affect heart muscle. The most frequent culprits of the weakened heart are myocardial infarction, hypertension, coronary artery disease (fat fragments in the heart's arteries), congenital defects and valvular heart disease.

#4. Excessive weight leads to heart failure – being overweight or obese may really increase your risks of heart-related problems. High body mass index is also associated with type 2 diabetes, which can also elevate chances of getting heart failure.

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Credit: Freepik

Credit: Freepik

#5. Fatigue may be a sign – we all feel tired at some point of our lives. But it's worth examining your heart, if it appears difficult to perform daily activities like shopping and climbing stairs.

#6. Excessive fluid may cause symptoms – as your heart fails to pump blood properly, fluid begins to accumulate within the body, causing nagging permanent cough, shortness of breath, swelling in the lower limbs and abdomen (ascites).

#7. How you feel when walking is important for diagnosis – there are four classes of congestive heart failure, based on your tolerance to exercises. Depending on the severity of symptoms and kind of physical activity, you are able to perform without discomfort, your doctor may advise you lifestyle modifications, certain medications or surgery.

Credit: Freepik

Credit: Freepik

#8. Quitting smoking is a necessary option – puffing nicotine elevates heart rate, as well as blood pressure levels. Smoking may also damage heart-feeding vessels. Staying off tobacco consumption can really improve your heart failure and relieve its symptoms.

#9. You still can (and need) exercises – that's right, physical activity increases your heart rate, making myocardium to work harder. However regular exercises can help you keep cholesterol and blood pressure numbers in optimal range. Physical activity is needed to maintain healthy weight that reduces your risks of heart failure.

Credit: Freepik

Credit: Freepik

#10. Go easy on salt – you've probably heard that taking too much sodium contributes to water retention. This can increase your blood pressure and aggravate heart failure symptoms.

#11. Diet plays a role – eliminating trans fats and saturated fats from your menu may bring a lot of benefits not only to your shape, but also to your heart. Add more heart-friendly fruits, vegetables, whole grains and omega-3-full products (like oily fish, olive oil, nuts and seeds) in order to prevent cardiovascular disease – one of the most common causes of heart failure.

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The BetterMe Team wants you and those close to you to live a healthy, happy life! Your health is a valuable thing; look after your body and your mind so that you can live your life to the fullest – Remember you only get one!

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