Heart failure and shortness of breath

The Main complaints with a heart failure also as Heart failure are designated:

  • Shortness of breath (medical: dyspnea) and
  • Edema, the accumulation of fluid in the tissue

Breathlessness combined with heart failure

The shortness of breath caused by a weak heart is mainly due to the pumping weakness of the left heart (Left heart failure), which leads to an insufficient supply of the organs with oxygen.
Initially, the shortness of breath only occurs under physical exertion, but in the advanced stages of cardiac insufficiency also at rest or even when the patient is lying flat to relieve the heart. If the latter is the case, the doctor speaks of orthopnea.
Several mechanisms are responsible for the shortness of breath caused by heart failure:

Find out more about the topic as well: Why does a cough occur when the heart is weak?

On the one hand, the airway resistance (medically: Resistance) to, i.e. it takes more and more strength to breathe a certain amount of air into the lungs than the diameter of the small one Alveoli leading airways (medical: Bronchi and Bronchioles) decreases due to the increased filling with tissue fluid. The narrowing of the Bronchi may have dimensions similar to one Asthma attack accept.
This is then systematically called "Cardiac asthma“, So through that heart caused asthma, designated.
The most severe form of fluid build-up is an immediate problem with powerful diuretic drugs (Diuretics) emergency requiring treatment: that Pulmonary edema.
On the other hand, with cardiac insufficiency, the structure of the lungs is also changed in terms of increased storage of connective tissue (medical: Fibrosis), since the increased load on the heart associated with the heart's pumping weakness leads to an activation of the sympathetic nervous system as well as for the release of various messenger substances, etc. from the kidney (e.g. renin).
This and the as Catecholamines designated Messenger substances of Sympathetic ensure a long-term remodeling of the heart muscle cells and the very thin membranes of the lungs that enable gas exchange.
As so-called alveolar membranes, the latter represent the basic building block of an alveoli (lat. alveolus = Vesicles) and are essential for proper breathing.
Due to the increased messenger substances circulating in the blood, they thicken and store more connective tissue, which increases the gas exchange in the lung difficult and thus leads to shortness of breath.