What is heart failure?
The heart is a pump which is responsible for pumping blood around the body. The blood delivers oxygen to the cells around the body to produce energy. When someone has heart failure it means that this pump is not working properly. The heart muscle can be saggy and not able to squeeze the blood out properly or it can be stiff so the heart cannot not fill up with as much blood.
Why do I feel so tired?
Unfortunately heart failure does not just affect your heart. It is a syndrome and affects people in different ways. When your heart failure is stable some people will feel very tired while other will get short of breath on low levels of activity. There is a reason for both. With heart failure the muscles in your arms and legs will change to have a lot of sprint fibres. This means that you will be able to do something for a short time and then feel very tired. The other thing that makes you feel tired is that the arteries around your body become sluggish and this makes it difficult for you to get going. The reason for this that the arteries are slow to widen so it takes a while for the blood to deliver the oxygen to the muscles that you need to use to perform your activity.
You will feel short of breath as the waste products from these sprint fibres can stimulate your breathing centre to increase the amount of times you breathe per minute. Also your diaphragm might be compromised by the syndrome so may not be operating to its full potential.
What can I do to feel better?
It is important that you take your medications as instructed by your doctor. Exercise is also a great way to help you feel better. With exercise you can work to improve the length of times that your muscles can work and also reduce the time it takes for those arteries to widen. This means that exercise will improve your energy levels. Start off slowly with 5 minutes and add 5 minutes each week so that after 5 weeks you will have achieved 30 minutes per day. You should always be able to walk and talk at the same time when you are exercising. Adding in some strength training will improve your energy levels further. It is best to do strength training under the supervision of an exercise professional initially.
What happens at Heart 2 Heart Cardiac Physiotherapy?
At Heart 2 Heart Cardiac Physiotherapy offers supervised exercise training programmes which combine both aerobic and weight training exercises to optimise your performance and reduce your fatigue levels. Exercise training in heart failure has also been found to reduce the number of times that you have to be admitted into hospital with heart failure and also reduce your visits to the emergency department.
At Heart 2 Heart we offer individual assessments so that we can establish what your current level of ability is. We then work with you to optimise your current performance and start to improve your energy levels and hence your ability to do things. For more information click here
Karen Cradock, Heart2Heart Cardiac Physiotherapy, Unit 5, Kilcullen Business Campus, Kilcullen, Co. Kildare, 0877667465, 045484000, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.h2hcardiacphysio.com.