By Joseph Hanna
YOU MIGHT THINK a heart attack is the
only thing that can beat down your heart, but
a condition called heart failure poses another
threat. Although it may sound like a heart
attack, it’s actually quite different, and about
half a million Canadians are currently living
with this condition.
What is heart failure?
Heart failure is not like a heart attack (or
myocardial infarction), where the arteries
that bring blood and oxygen to the heart are
blocked. In heart failure, the heart muscle
becomes damaged because of one or more
reasons and is unable to pump blood throughout the body as well as it should, especially
after physical activity or stress. It is also not
able to relax and fill with blood properly,
causing the extra fluid to back up into the
lungs and other parts of the body.
What causes it?
Heart failure generally doesn’t happen
overnight. It is usually a lifelong condition
that can get worse over time. Many medical
conditions and even certain drugs can cause
heart failure. The two most common causes
are high blood pressure and the long-term
consequences of a heart attack. Having diabetes, being overweight, having high cholesterol
and drinking too much alcohol or using illicit
drugs are also risk factors for heart failure.
This is why many health-care professionals
recommend keeping your heart healthy by
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