Water Retention

Water collects in the bodies of people with CHF. And that causes problems.

What It Is
How It Happens
What To Do About It

WATER RETENTION

Water collects in the bodies of people with CHF. And that causes problems. These are the places where water collects. (A word to the wise: The two kinds of medication that treat water retention are water pills and pressure pills. If you want to learn about them, take a look.):

  • Swollen legs and feet: The most obvious place — that’s water in there. That water can also cause problems: 1) It stretches out the skin, making it thin and fragile, and 2) There are mean chemicals in that water that can eat away at that thinned, fragile skin, causing swelling sores (AKA, venous stasis ulcers).
  • The lungs: The most dangerous place -- The air we breathe into our lungs has oxygen in it — When it gets to the bottom of our lungs, little hands grab that oxygen and hand it over to our blood -- Then our blood takes it all over to help make our muscles move, our brains think and everything else the body does.
When you have extra water in your lungs, it isn’t enough to drown you — but it does cover some of those hands — meaning that you don’t get enough oxygen for your muscles and brain to work the way they should. And when that happens—you feel weak, tired and out of breath.

But an even bigger danger from extra water in the lungs is PNEUMONIA. Pneumonia germs just love to live in extra water in the lungs, and doing the two things pneumonia germs like to do best — Make lots of pneumonia germ babies and make people really sick, sending you to the hospital, and maybe even killing you.

  • The heart: The CHF water problem -- Extra water can also collect in your blood if you have congestive heart failure.
Here’s an interesting fact. Blood is about 50% water and 50% red blood cells.

It’s kind of like the way Kool Aid is water mixed with tiny granules of red powder that make Kool Aid drinks red (and tasty sweet). Blood water mixes with millions of tiny red blood cells that make your blood red (and carry oxygen—but that’s a different story).

People with heart failure hold onto too much water in their blood—It’s called extra “blood volume.” It’s just like mixing a packet of Kool Aid with two quarts of water instead of one to make extra “Kool Aid volume.”

But that extra “blood volume” causes problems—it means that there’s extra blood fitting into an amount of blood vessel space that was meant for a regular amount of blood volume—and that means high blood pressure (AKA hypertension).

It also means that your heart has to strain like crazy to pump blood into those high pressure blood vessels. The blood is moving, but it’s wedged in there. Because it’s crammed in there, it’s hard for the heart to pump blood into. That means heart strain and damage.

It’s the same as trying to blow extra air into a balloon, except the balloon stretches a lot to fit that extra air, and blood vessels don’t stretch much. In the blood vessels, there’s just a lot more pressure against the blood vessel walls and inside the blood vessels.
Water retention + Congestive heart failure

And don’t forget — If you have heart failure, your heart is already damaged and weak, so trying to pump blood into those extra-high-pressure blood vessels is extra-hard and extra-damaging. Especially since that heart has to do 115,000 of those pumps a day, or 42 million a year. The damage gets extra worse-and-worse extra faster-and-faster.

THEN, making matters worse, if a person already has high blood pressure with narrow constricted blood vessels, like almost everybody with heart failure, now there’s double-extra-pressure in those blood vessels-- meaning it’s double hard for the heart to pump extra blood into extra-narrowed blood vessels.

And with that, the heart damage gets extra-extra worse-and-worse extra--extra faster-and-faster.

The two kinds of medication that treat water retention are water pills and pressure pills. If you want to learn about them, take a look.

What It Is

WATER RETENTION

Water collects in the bodies of people with CHF. And that causes problems. These are the places where water collects. (A word to the wise: The two kinds of medication that treat water retention are water pills and pressure pills. If you want to learn about them, take a look.):

  • Swollen legs and feet: The most obvious place — that’s water in there. That water can also cause problems: 1) It stretches out the skin, making it thin and fragile, and 2) There are mean chemicals in that water that can eat away at that thinned, fragile skin, causing swelling sores (AKA, venous stasis ulcers).
  • The lungs: The most dangerous place -- The air we breathe into our lungs has oxygen in it — When it gets to the bottom of our lungs, little hands grab that oxygen and hand it over to our blood -- Then our blood takes it all over to help make our muscles move, our brains think and everything else the body does.

How It Happens

When you have extra water in your lungs, it isn’t enough to drown you — but it does cover some of those hands — meaning that you don’t get enough oxygen for your muscles and brain to work the way they should. And when that happens—you feel weak, tired and out of breath.

But an even bigger danger from extra water in the lungs is PNEUMONIA. Pneumonia germs just love to live in extra water in the lungs, and doing the two things pneumonia germs like to do best — Make lots of pneumonia germ babies and make people really sick, sending you to the hospital, and maybe even killing you.

  • The heart: The CHF water problem -- Extra water can also collect in your blood if you have congestive heart failure.
Here’s an interesting fact. Blood is about 50% water and 50% red blood cells.

It’s kind of like the way Kool Aid is water mixed with tiny granules of red powder that make Kool Aid drinks red (and tasty sweet). Blood water mixes with millions of tiny red blood cells that make your blood red (and carry oxygen—but that’s a different story).

People with heart failure hold onto too much water in their blood—It’s called extra “blood volume.” It’s just like mixing a packet of Kool Aid with two quarts of water instead of one to make extra “Kool Aid volume.”

But that extra “blood volume” causes problems—it means that there’s extra blood fitting into an amount of blood vessel space that was meant for a regular amount of blood volume—and that means high blood pressure (AKA hypertension).

It also means that your heart has to strain like crazy to pump blood into those high pressure blood vessels. The blood is moving, but it’s wedged in there. Because it’s crammed in there, it’s hard for the heart to pump blood into. That means heart strain and damage.

It’s the same as trying to blow extra air into a balloon, except the balloon stretches a lot to fit that extra air, and blood vessels don’t stretch much. In the blood vessels, there’s just a lot more pressure against the blood vessel walls and inside the blood vessels.

What To Do About It

Water retention + Congestive heart failure

And don’t forget — If you have heart failure, your heart is already damaged and weak, so trying to pump blood into those extra-high-pressure blood vessels is extra-hard and extra-damaging. Especially since that heart has to do 115,000 of those pumps a day, or 42 million a year. The damage gets extra worse-and-worse extra faster-and-faster.

THEN, making matters worse, if a person already has high blood pressure with narrow constricted blood vessels, like almost everybody with heart failure, now there’s double-extra-pressure in those blood vessels-- meaning it’s double hard for the heart to pump extra blood into extra-narrowed blood vessels.

And with that, the heart damage gets extra-extra worse-and-worse extra--extra faster-and-faster.

The two kinds of medication that treat water retention are water pills and pressure pills. If you want to learn about them, take a look.

Related Entries

ANTIBIOTICS and PNEUMONIA

Antibiotics kill germs, pneumonia germs, an awful lung infection that happens to people with congestive heart failure.

Cellulitis

Cellulitis is a skin infection that makes your skin painful, red, and hot!

CHF with Preserved Ejection Fraction

(ejection fraction = EF)
When people have CHF, their hearts do a lousy job of beating and pumping blood around the body.

CHF without Preserved Ejection Fraction

(ejection fraction = EF)
When people have CHF, their hearts do a lousy job of beating and pumping blood around the body.

QUIZ-A-RAMA

linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram