Edema is the medical term for swelling. Body parts swell from injury or inflammation. It can affect a small area or the entire body. Medications, infections, pregnancy, and many other medical problems can cause edema.
Edema happens when your small blood vessels become "leaky" and release fluid into nearby tissues. That extra fluid builds up, which makes the tissue swell.
“First of all, heart failure is an unfortunate and inaccurate term,” says Lynne Warner Stevenson, the director of the cardiomyopathy and heart failure program at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. “It usually means that the heart is handicapped, not that it can’t function.”
No one will tell you that heart failure isn’t serious business. It’s certainly a tough pair of words to hear.
“All of the sudden you feel like your life has kind of fallen out from underneath your feet, and that you’re facing this big uncertainty,” Stevenson says. “But it’s not that your life has become uncertain. It’s always been uncertain. We never know if we’re going to make it through the day.
“That doesn’t isolate [you] from all the people around you. Life is uncertain for everybody.”
You can live a productive, fulfilling life with heart failure if you follow a few steps.
1. Don’t become your disease.
It’s easy to get wrapped up in your heart failure and your personal struggle with it. But don’t let it define who you are or what you do with your life.
Durant, 27, was diagnosed with heart failure and cardiac sarcoidosis, an inflammatory disease of the heart, when she was 23. She had a pacemaker implanted in her chest, and she deals with the realities of her condition every day.
She tries to keep a positive attitude, but when that becomes tough, she reaches out to family and friends.
“I would definitely say surrounding yourself with good people makes it a little easier, people that understand kind of what you’re going through,” she says. “And finding a good support group.”