Symptoms of heart failure in old age: find and neutralize

The first manifestations of various heart diseases should be carefully examined to avoid the development of more dangerous symptoms. If you delay in contacting a doctor, the condition of the heart muscle gradually worsens. Its tissues and vessels undergo pathological changes and can no longer perform the functions of pumping a sufficient volume of blood. As a result, the patient is diagnosed with heart failure, which is fraught with serious complications: myocardial infarction, ischemia, arterial hypertension, etc. It is the timely diagnosis of heart problems that will protect you from dangerous consequences. Now you can undergo a consultation and a set of preparatory examinations when registering for a course of enhanced external counterpulsation or shock wave therapy of the heart absolutely free of charge!


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What is heart failure?

The evolution of this disease occurs gradually, problems in the functioning of the heart increase with the age of the patient. In his youth, he does not feel interruptions, because the heart tissues and blood vessels have sufficient tone to supply blood to all parts of the body. Gradually, under the influence of various factors, tissues and blood vessels lose their elasticity, the heart does not fully perform its main function and blood supply deteriorates.

Negative factors include:

  • passion for bad habits (alcohol, smoking);
  • sedentary lifestyle;
  • eating disorders;
  • hereditary heart diseases;
  • unfavorable environment.

At the initial stage, changes occur in the structure of tissues - the ventricles of the heart and their muscles increase. Accordingly, the volume of blood in them increases. The heart muscle needs to work harder to push blood into the vascular system.

As a result, the heart is exhausted, and the walls of blood vessels, due to overload, lose their elasticity, narrow, quickly wear out and over time lose their ability to pass a normal volume of blood. At the same time, vascular pressure increases, and the person quickly gets tired. And the greater the degree of wear and tear of the heart and blood vessels, the faster fatigue sets in. With a high degree of cardiovascular insufficiency, the patient feels a loss of strength even when stationary.

Not only changes occur in the tissues of the heart and blood vessels. The body replenishes the lack of blood, primarily in the brain and the heart itself. Therefore, patients experience insufficient flow to the limbs and other organs. Peripheral vascular diseases, chronic renal failure develop, joints suffer from lack of blood circulation, etc.

Classification of heart failure

Acute heart failure

Characterized by sudden, dynamic and to some extent unpredictable development. An attack can develop in 3-5 minutes or 3-5 hours. The contractile function of the heart is impaired, so blood circulation suffers, and the load on the heart tissue (either the left or right ventricle) increases sharply.

Various types of acute forms are characterized by:

  • stagnation of blood in various large veins or pulmonary circulation;
  • a sharp decrease in heart rate, which causes a deterioration in the blood supply to organs and tissues of the body;
  • sudden deterioration in the condition of a patient suffering from a chronic form of the disease.

Chronic heart failure

The most common form. It is characterized by a progressive course and an increase in functional heart problems. The disease has several stages.

Initially, the heart muscle compensates for the insufficient volume of blood ejection by increasing the number of contractions. At this time, myocardial hypertrophy gradually occurs, the vessels begin to reflexively narrow, and the patient experiences periodic ailments.

This state lasts until the compensation mechanism exhausts its resources. Organs and tissues experience a greater lack of oxygen supplied by the blood, and metabolic products are excreted worse. Dystrophic phenomena develop in the body.

The first alarming manifestations of insufficiency

If a man ignores the first, almost imperceptible symptoms, heart failure can manifest itself at any moment so that the person ends up in a hospital bed.

  • Dizziness, fainting, fainting : this can happen at home, on the street, when leaving the room or on public transport. The consequences are extremely serious; saving a life depends on correct actions in the first minutes of an attack.
  • Arrhythmia or tachycardia , irregular heartbeat, sensation of cardiac arrest.
  • Shortness of breath , increasing day by day, first with exertion, then at rest.

Causes of heart failure

Causes of acute heart failure

The main cause of the disease is damage to heart tissue, leading to a change in its functionality. It is often caused by other diseases that negatively affect the heart and blood vessels:

  • arrhythmias;
  • cardiomyopathy;
  • myocarditis;
  • myocardial infarction;
  • increase in chronic symptoms;
  • diabetes;
  • cardiac tamponade;
  • pulmonary artery blockage;
  • heart defects.
  • Causes of non-cardiac origin include:
  • infectious infections;
  • strokes;
  • brain injuries.

Acute heart failure in men

In the male part of the population, the occurrence of the disease in an acute form is most often provoked by myocardial infarction, toxic poisoning (including alcohol), stress, and overwork.

Acute heart failure in women

A high risk of the disease occurs in women during pregnancy, when the heart is under heavy stress. And during menopause, hormonal changes occur in the body, affecting the functioning of the heart.

Causes of chronic cardiovascular failure

There are several specific causes of chronic (congestive) heart failure:

  • cardiac ischemia;
  • endocrine diseases;
  • eating disorders;
  • cardiomyopathy;
  • arrhythmias, heart block;
  • pericardial diseases;
  • arterial hypertension;
  • congenital and acquired heart defects.

Chronic heart failure in men

Men suffer from this disease mainly due to coronary heart disease, characterized by pathology of the coronary arteries. Negative factors are obesity, alcohol abuse and smoking.

Chronic heart failure in women

In Russia, the risk of developing the disease is higher in women, because their life expectancy is generally longer, and heart failure is a disease of old age. The most common cause of the disease in the female population is arterial hypertension. The greatest risk of developing the disease occurs during menopause.

Causes of the disease

Since heart failure is divided into two subgroups, the reasons for the development of this pathology also differ. The acute form develops due to the following reasons:

  • Heart injury.
  • Disturbances in the rhythm of the main organ.
  • Insufficient functioning of valves.
  • Tamponade, myocardial infarction.
  • Thromboembolism of the pulmonary arteries.

Chronic heart failure can occur due to the following reasons:

  • Low blood pressure.
  • Ischemic heart disease in an advanced stage.
  • Valve malfunctions.
  • Cardiosclerosis.

Clear signs that unmistakably indicate a chronic form are:

  • Constant weakness.
  • Swelling of the legs.
  • Constant cough.
  • Dyspnea.

Cardiologists claim that a symptom such as shortness of breath is one of the main primary signs of heart failure. With the onset of shortness of breath, the patient experiences it only when walking and physical activity. Then, as disease activity increases, shortness of breath may occur even at rest and sleep. A persistent dry cough that occurs in patients with heart failure is rarely associated by patients themselves with heart disease. Especially in men, cough is associated with smoking. Women find other, more harmless explanations for their constant cough. However, cardiologists insist that if these symptoms appear, you should immediately visit a doctor and undergo examinations that will help determine the exact cause of cough and shortness of breath.

Swelling appears in the lower extremities at the end of the day. Since there is practically no swelling in the morning hours, many come to the conclusion that this is a symptom of ordinary fatigue. However, after swelling, other signs appear that are more worrying for women. These include brittle nails, hair loss, pigment spots on the skin.

Constant weakness and reluctance to do daily work can also be signs of heart failure. Due to the fact that the muscles are not sufficiently supplied with blood, men and women experience a feeling of weakness during even mild physical activity.

Stages of heart failure

In medicine, there are 4 stages (degrees) of heart failure.

  • First . Mild manifestations of the disease during physical activity (fatigue, shortness of breath, increased heart rate), which most patients usually do not pay attention to. In a calm state, the symptoms disappear.
  • Second . Quite long-term, increasing changes in the functions of the heart occur. The patient begins to feel interruptions in heart rhythm and shortness of breath already at rest, but their degree still remains moderate. Moreover, symptoms may appear suddenly, for example, when trying to get out of bed.
  • Third . In the end, interruptions in the functioning of other organs and blood vessels make themselves felt, accompanied by pathological changes in their tissues and the circulatory system.

How to notice the invisible

The first, subtle signs of heart failure in men, which are very important to pay attention to, are increased fatigue and constant fatigue .
Of course, we cannot discount age, serious physical activity and the stress of modern life. However, this is exactly how the “first bell” of heart failure sounds, with increasing fatigue. Subtle, but very important for diagnosis at the first stage, symptoms such as:

  • fast fatiguability;
  • weakness;
  • apathy;
  • loss of appetite;
  • heaviness and swelling of the legs;
  • cyanosis of mucous membranes, lips, pallor of the skin.

If nervous or physical stress overtakes a man after 35 years of age more than once a month, his appetite disappears, his legs begin to swell , he should consult a doctor to rule out heart problems or begin treatment.

Functional classes of heart failure

  • First . The patient is physically active and does not feel obvious signs of the disease.
  • Second . The patient experiences well at rest, but physical activity causes symptoms of the disease to appear.
  • Third . The patient is comfortable at rest, but much less physical activity is required for signs of the disease to appear.
  • Fourth . Already at rest the patient feels discomfort, and with minimal exertion the symptoms increase sharply.

Symptoms of acute heart failure

Symptoms increase quickly and even rapidly. Pathological changes occur in different ventricles of the heart, therefore the following symptoms of heart failure are distinguished.

If the right ventricle is damaged:

  • veins in the neck swell;
  • fingers, ears, tip of nose turn blue;
  • limbs swell;
  • the liver enlarges, and the skin turns slightly yellow.
  • For left ventricular failure:
  • shortness of breath and suffocation develop;
  • coughing attacks are accompanied by the release of sputum and foam;
  • the patient tries to sit up in bed with his legs down;
  • Moist rales are heard in the lungs.

A common symptom is dizziness, loss of balance due to a sharp deterioration in blood supply to the brain. In response to a decrease in the amount of blood in the vessels, tachycardia rapidly develops. The patient may also feel nauseated.

Clinical manifestations

Different types of heart failure are characterized by distinctive symptoms. But there are common manifestations on the basis of which the disease can be suspected and therapy can be prescribed in a timely manner. They should be taken into account by patients to use the opportunity to see a doctor:

  • increased weakness and causeless fatigue;
  • shortness of breath associated with physical activity, walking;
  • pain in the chest in the sternum and to the left of it;
  • palpitations, feeling of rhythm interruption;
  • swelling in the legs and arms;
  • cyanosis of fingers and toes, lips, nose, ears;
  • pulsation of swollen veins in the neck;
  • prolonged cough with sputum, wheezing breathing.

The disease begins with fatigue and shortness of breath

Women usually associate poor health with stress and anxiety. But then symptoms are noted at rest. Progression leads to more severe manifestations.

Symptoms of chronic heart failure

  • One of the most characteristic symptoms of heart failure is shortness of breath . As the disease progresses, its intensity increases.
  • Due to insufficient oxygen supply to the tissues, oxygen starvation develops, which is expressed in rapid fatigue , chronic fatigue .
  • Stagnation of fluid in the lungs, associated with deterioration of hemodynamics in the pulmonary circulation, causes a wet cough .
  • Enlargement of the ventricles leads to the fact that the heart needs to contract more often in order to push out the required amount of blood - the heart rate increases .

The chronic form is characterized by an increase in the manifestations of the disease. If at an early stage patients may not pay attention to them, then later the severity of symptoms increases and fatigue sets in faster. Even at rest, the patient feels significant shortness of breath, palpitations, at night his limbs swell, and in the morning he may experience pain in the heart area.

When to rush to the doctor

Heart failure is a syndrome that increasingly leads the stronger half of humanity to loss of ability to work, disability, and it also becomes the cause of death.

You should call a doctor immediately if you experience any of the following sensations:

  • Signs and symptoms of heart failure in women - features of early diagnosis

  • sudden lack of air;
  • sharp pain under the shoulder blade, in the left arm, numbness;
  • feeling of discomfort in the heart area;
  • fear, most often the fear of death after a sudden awakening at night (lack of oxygen causes the brain to experience exactly this feeling at critical moments, as cardiologists note);
  • nausea, vomiting, sometimes diarrhea along with arrhythmia and chest pain.

Men definitely need to see a therapist, who will decide on hospitalization or refer them to a cardiologist. Sometimes men, suspecting an attack of osteochondrosis, lose precious minutes and hours in queues to see a surgeon or neurologist .

Diagnosis of heart failure

At an early stage, methods are used to detect interruptions in the functioning of the heart under load that are not noticeable in a calm state. At the CBCP clinic, patients are offered the most effective of these methods:

  • daily ECG monitoring;
  • stress ECG;
  • Holter ECG;
  • Ultrasound of the heart;
  • stress echocardiography.

To diagnose chronic heart failure and study various abnormalities in the structure of the heart and blood vessels, CBCP also uses 24-hour blood pressure monitoring (ABPM), cardiac rhythmography, and a special cardiac screening program.

First aid for heart failure

First aid for heart failure is mainly required for acute illness, when the risk of myocardial infarction increases. Only a team of resuscitators with special equipment can provide qualified help. Therefore, you urgently need to call an ambulance.

While you are waiting for doctors, provide first aid for acute heart failure:

  • make the patient sit with pillows around him;
  • give him a nitroglycerin tablet;
  • provide air access.

If the patient has lost consciousness, it is necessary to perform an indirect cardiac massage.

Causes of heart failure in men

People at risk should closely monitor their heart condition. Get regular diagnostic tests if the following factors are present in your life:

  1. High cholesterol and unstable blood pressure with the development of concomitant pathologies affect the heart. Pay attention to these indicators if you have reached the age of 30.
  2. Regular smoking can increase the risk of developing heart failure by 4 times. The danger is not only from smoking, but also from being in a room where cigarette smoke is constantly spreading.
  3. Poor nutrition. With an unbalanced diet, the heart muscle weakens and other pathologies may appear. If you notice the first signs of the disease, you need to increase the amount of vegetables, fruits, legumes and seafood in your diet.

Other causes of heart failure:

  1. Disorders associated with heart function.
  2. Chronic infectious processes.
  3. Hormonal disbalance.
  4. Impaired absorption of nutrients.

Treating Heart Failure Symptoms

Treatment of chronic heart failure takes a lot of time, and many drugs (diuretics, glycosides, inhibitors, beta blockers) are prescribed to the patient for life. Basically, the action of the drugs is aimed at relieving the symptoms of the disease and making life easier for the patient. In particular, shortness of breath in heart failure is treated, swelling of the extremities is relieved, and blood pressure is normalized.

In acute cases of the disease, in addition to medications, surgical methods are used. The goal of treatment is to eliminate the causes that led to the disease: narrowing of the coronary artery, consequences of myocardial infarction. In case of severe pathological changes in cardiac tissue, a defibrillator is implanted in the patient.

Why does heart failure develop?

Heart failure depends on the contractility of the myocardium. The causes are conventionally divided into primary and secondary.

Primary are those that act directly on the heart muscle:

  • rheumatic lesion;
  • acute and chronic myocarditis in infectious diseases;
  • myocardial dystrophy due to intoxication;
  • endocrine pathology (thyrotoxicosis, diabetes mellitus, myxedema);
  • long-term anemia.

By secondary we mean causes that indirectly lead to myocardial fatigue, oxygen starvation, and dystrophy:

  • hypertension in the systemic and pulmonary circulation;
  • atherosclerosis of large vessels and coronary arteries;
  • heart defects, acquired and congenital;
  • exudative and adhesive pericarditis;
  • chronic lung diseases accompanied by emphysema, pneumosclerosis.

The division is considered conditional, since most often they are combined. For example, in thyrotoxicosis, the primary effect is considered to be the effect of the hormone thyroxine on the myocardium, and the secondary is constant tachycardia, which leads to heart fatigue. Prescribing treatment requires taking into account all possible causes.

Nutrition and daily routine

Meals should be fractional: 5-6 times a day in small portions. Limit the consumption of meat, salt, exclude smoked foods, chocolate, and alcohol. To replenish their strength, patients should eat foods high in potassium: buckwheat and oatmeal, bananas, dried apricots, Brussels sprouts, etc. A protein and vitamin diet is prescribed.

The daily routine depends on the form of the disease. In the acute form, only rest is necessary. In chronic cases, on the contrary, rest is contraindicated. The patient is advised to exercise in moderation, and a special system of exercises is developed to prevent the disease.


Treatment of the acute form begins with the ambulance team and continues in the hospital. The patient must be given intravenously:

  • cardiac glycosides;
  • diuretics;
  • Oxygen is given through a mask or nasal catheters.

The chronic form is treated depending on the underlying disease

At the same time, antihypertensive drugs for hypertension, correction of blood sugar, control of cholesterol levels and blood clotting are necessary.

  • ACE inhibitors are unequally active in the treatment of men and women. Observations have shown that Enalapril and Captopril are approximately 10 times less effective for women than for men. Ramipril is more effective. This is due to the lack of the basis for the application of the action of these drugs - pronounced hypertrophy in women. Therefore, their use is most appropriate during menopause and in old age (after menopause).
  • The choice of diuretics depends on the functional usefulness of the kidneys. They are necessary for ventricular overload and edema. Aldosterone receptor antagonists (Spironolactone) have the greatest indications.
  • The group of β-blockers is indicated for reduced ejection fraction caused by both myocardial ischemia and non-ischemic lesions.
  • Cardiac glycosides (Digoxin) are prescribed in optimal doses, especially indicated when combined with atrial fibrillation.
  • Antiplatelet agents and anticoagulants must be used to prevent thromboembolic complications.

Currently, the use of estrogen drugs in the treatment of heart failure has not been sufficiently studied. Scientists tend to believe that they have a positive effect, but the evidence base and the required duration of observations do not yet exist.

Detection and treatment of heart failure in women shows that clinical examination and preventive prescription of drugs should be approached taking into account the age period and the degree of influence of specific risk factors.

Qualified care for heart failure at the CBCP clinic

At the slightest suspicion of this disease, undergo diagnostics of the functioning of the heart and blood vessels. Modern diagnostic methods make it possible to determine the true cause of the disease in order to promptly block its further development.

The CBCP clinic has the latest expert-class equipment for diagnosing all types of this disease. Experienced, qualified cardiologists will advise you and give recommendations on how to treat heart failure.

Make an appointment right now on the website or during business hours by phone.

In childhood

Pathology in newborns is associated with combined or complex cardiac malformations. Heart failure can develop against the background of a congenital inflammatory process in the myocardium, endocardium, or damage to the valves.

The cause of the disease in children of any age is considered to be:

  • tachyarrhythmia, cardiomyopathy;
  • anemic conditions;
  • kidney disease – with problems removing fluid from the body;
  • trauma, heart surgery;
  • load on the organ during infusion therapy.

In schoolchildren, heart failure develops against the background of acquired valve defects and rheumatoid inflammation in the organ.

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