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What are the Four Stages of Congestive Heart Failure?

stages of heart failure

Congestive heart failure occurs when the heart does not pump blood effectively. It can happen for various reasons, such as the heart muscle being too weak or when other health conditions prevent the blood from circulating efficiently. Over time, a lack of proper circulation can cause other problems in the body such as organ failure.

In the past, researchers believed that there wasn’t much that could be done to correct congestive heart failure. We now know that this is not the case. With early intervention and healthy lifestyle changes, early heart failure can be treated, managed and even reversed. The outlook is even better for early stages of heart failure.

Below are the four stages of congestive heart failure and the symptoms to be aware of.

Stage A

People with Stage A heart failure have a high risk of developing congestive heart failure but do not yet have dysfunction of the pumping activity. The reason for their high risk comes from other conditions like high blood pressure, diabetes and coronary heart disease.

Thankfully, early intervention and healthy lifestyle changes can reverse the risk for heart failure, as there is nothing structurally wrong with the heart However, most people have symptoms from underlying conditions like chronic high blood pressure.

Stage B

During this stage, structural problems with the heart begin. People move into this stage when they fail to make healthy diet and exercise changes to lower their blood pressure and diabetes symptoms. Therefore, these conditions cause damage to the heart. It’s also possible to land in Stage B from a heart attack. Most people feel no symptoms at this point.

Stage C

Once in Stage C, people do begin to notice symptoms like fatigue and being short of breath. At this time in the progression, there are structural changes occurring in the heart that interfere with healthy blood flow. For example, the left ventricle may be enlarged or the pumping chamber may be compromised. Because of the fatigue and breathlessness, most people have seen their doctors by this point.

Stage D

Stage D is the last stage, and this is when people display significant symptoms, even when they are resting. Common symptoms include coughing, wheezing, nausea and lack of appetite.

People in Stage D often require advanced care, such as mechanical circulatory support, a cardiac transplant or hospice care. The treatment plan depends on the individual’s overall health and other underlying conditions.

Congestive heart failure is not the death sentence it once was. There is more that can be done to manage the condition and prolong symptoms. To learn more about congestive heart failure and your treatment options, download this PDF from Doctor’s Choice.

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