Information for Patients
Also called: CHF, Cardiac failure, Congestive heart failure, Left-sided heart failure, Right-sided heart failure
Heart failure is a condition in which the heart can't pump enough blood to meet the body's needs. Heart failure does not mean that your heart has stopped or is about to stop working. It means that your heart is not able to pump blood the way it should. It can affect one or both sides of the heart.
The weakening of the heart's pumping ability causes
- Blood and fluid to back up into the lungs
- The buildup of fluid in the feet, ankles and legs - called edema
- Tiredness and shortness of breath
Common causes of heart failure are coronary artery disease, high blood pressure and diabetes. It is more common in people who are 65 years old or older, African Americans, people who are overweight, and people who have had a heart attack. Men have a higher rate of heart failure than women.
Your doctor will diagnose heart failure by doing a physical exam and heart tests. Treatment includes treating the underlying cause of your heart failure, medicines, and heart transplantation if other treatments fail.
NIH: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
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High Blood Pressure
Also called: Benign essential hypertension, Essential hypertension, HBP, HTN, Hypertension
What is blood pressure?
Blood pressure is the force of your blood pushing against the walls of your arteries. Each time your heart beats, it pumps blood into the arteries. Your blood pressure is highest when your heart beats, pumping the blood. This is called systolic pressure. When your heart is at rest, between beats, your blood pressure falls. This is called diastolic pressure.
Your blood pressure reading uses these two numbers. Usually the systolic number comes before or above the diastolic number. For example, 120/80 means a systolic of 120 and a diastolic of 80.
How is high blood pressure diagnosed?
High blood pressure usually has no symptoms. So the only way to find out if you have it is to get regular blood pressure checks from your health care provider. Your provider will use a gauge, a stethoscope or electronic sensor, and a blood pressure cuff. He or she will take two or more readings at separate appointments before making a diagnosis.
You have high blood pressure if your readings show that
- Your systolic is 140 or higher OR
- Your diastolic is 90 or higher
Some providers may consider you to have high blood pressure if you have other heart risk factors and
- Your systolic is between 130 and 139 OR
- Your diastolic is between 80 and 89
Blood pressure readings above 180 /120 are dangerously high and require immediate medical attention.
For children and teens, the health care provider compares the blood pressure reading to what is normal for other kids who are the same age, height, and gender.
What are the different types of high blood pressure?
There are two main types of high blood pressure: primary and secondary high blood pressure.
- Primary, or essential, high blood pressure is the most common type of high blood pressure. For most people who get this kind of blood pressure, it develops over time as you get older.
- Secondary high blood pressure is caused by another medical condition or use of certain medicines. It usually gets better after you treat that condition or stop taking the medicines that are causing it.
Why do I need to worry about high blood pressure?
When your blood pressure stays high over time, it causes the heart to pump harder and work overtime, possibly leading to serious health problems such as heart attack, stroke, heart failure, and kidney failure.
What are the treatments for high blood pressure?
Treatments for high blood pressure include heart-healthy lifestyle changes and medicines.
You will work with your provider to come up with a treatment plan. It may include only the lifestyle changes. These changes, such as heart-healthy eating and exercise, can be very effective. But sometimes the changes do not control or lower your high blood pressure. Then you may need to take medicine. There are different types of blood pressure medicines. Some people need to take more than one type.
If your high blood pressure is caused by another medical condition or medicine, treating that condition or stopping the medicine may lower your blood pressure.
NIH: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
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Also called: ESRD, End-stage renal disease, Renal failure
Healthy kidneys clean your blood by removing excess fluid, minerals, and wastes. They also make hormones that keep your bones strong and your blood healthy. But if the kidneys are damaged, they don't work properly. Harmful wastes can build up in your body. Your blood pressure may rise. Your body may retain excess fluid and not make enough red blood cells. This is called kidney failure.
If your kidneys fail, you need treatment to replace the work they normally do. The treatment options are dialysis or a kidney transplant. Each treatment has benefits and drawbacks. No matter which treatment you choose, you'll need to make some changes in your life, including how you eat and plan your activities. But with the help of health care providers, family, and friends, most people with kidney failure can lead full and active lives.
NIH: National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases
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