Why oxygen is so important
Heart failure is complicated. But the answer to that question comes down to one thing, and one thing only—Oxygen.
Our bodies need oxygen for everything they do. Our muscles use oxygen when they move (and they can’t move without oxygen). Our brains use oxygen to think, and we can’t think without using oxygen. Our intestines use oxygen to help them digest food, and they can’t…well, you probably get the picture.
Think about oxygen this way. We breathe about 12 times a minute, 720 times an hour, and 17,280 times a day, all of those breaths for one reason—to get oxygen out of the air. Then our lungs hand that oxygen over to our blood, which carries that oxygen to the heart, which pumps that oxygen-rich blood, through our blood vessels, all around our body with each one of its 115,200 beats a day—Between the breathing and the heartbeats, that’s a lot of resources just to send oxygen around the body. But oxygen is that important.
What happens when our body parts don’t get enough oxygen
It’s bad. When our brain doesn’t get enough oxygen we get confused, dunder-headed and depressed. When our muscles don’t get enough oxygen, they get weak and ache. Our digestive system stops digesting food. Overall, we feel run down.
And, obviously, we feel short of breath.
Some people with CHF experience all this stuff all the time. It’s terrible.
But it’s especially bad when we exert energy (by walking up stairs, for example) and need extra oxygen to support our extra effort. They we’ll feel really wiped out and our muscles will feel really achy and weak.