Article written by Dr. Michelle Strydom MD
Heart failure is where the heart is no longer able to pump the blood efficiently. As a result your brain, organs and body tissues do not get an adequate blood supply with oxygen and energy. To understand heart failure, it is important for you to first read through the chapter on the effects of long term fear, anxiety and stress on page 180 which has essential background knowledge.
Luke 21 v26: “In the last days men’s hearts shall fail them because of fear.” (KJV)
I have quoted the above scripture many times in this chapter as I have explained how the different heart diseases caused by fear, anxiety and stress eventually lead to heart failure. Heart failure is a complication of another underlying heart disease. The most common causes are listed below.
- High blood pressure (hypertension) – the heart is overworked by the strain of having to pump blood against a high pressure.
- Coronary artery disease – the heart muscle is not getting an adequate blood supply.
- Heart valve disease – this leads to an increase in blood volume and subsequently an increased pressure inside the heart. The high pressure puts strain on the heart, causing it to be overworked.
- Abnormal heart rhythm.
- Failure of the right side of the heart can be caused by lung disease (the medical term is corpulmonale) –diseases such as chronic bronchitis, emphysema and TB cause narrowing and high pressure in the blood vessels in the lung. Thus the right side of the heart has to pump blood to the lung against a high pressure. This puts strain on the right side of the heart, eventually causing it to fail.
- Damaged heart muscle – for example by a heart attack or myocarditis.
- Cardiomyopathy i.e. abnormal functioning of the heart muscle (explained above).
The spiritual roots behind the diseases mentioned above that cause heart failure have been discussed in detail previously in this chapter. All of these diseases involve different types of fear, anxiety and stress upstream in a person’s thought life that puts the body into a toxic state of stage 2 and 3 of stress. (Coronary Artery Disease, bronchitis and some forms of cardiomyopathy also have an element of self bitterness, guilt and varying degrees of self-hatred).
Patients with heart failure have been shown to have high levels of stress hormones in their blood (such as norepinephrin released from the adrenal glands in the kidney) and hyperactivity of the sympathetic nervous system.
Normally the kidneys filter out excess fluid in the blood. The fluid that is filtered out by the kidneys then drains into the bladder. This fluid is then excreted from your body along with other waste in the form of urine. During stage 2 and 3 of stress, there are high levels of stress hormones. One of these stress hormones is ACTH (which is the fear hormone). ACTH causes an increased release of a chemical called Aldosterone from the adrenal glands on top of the kidney. Aldosterone has an action on the kidney that causes less fluid in the blood to be filtered out by the kidney. Because less fluid is filtered out, the blood volume increases, which in turn causes as increase in the blood pressure. Eventually the pressure is so high that it forces fluid in the blood out of the blood vessels into the surrounding tissues. This is why people with heart failure get swelling in their ankles and legs. Fluid also leaks into the lungs, interfering with the absorption of oxygen from the air that is breathed in. This results in a sensation of shortness of breath and labored breathing (medical term is dyspnoea). Difficulty in breathing during exertion such as walking up stairs or up a hill is one of the earliest symptoms of heart failure. The fluid in the lungs also makes it difficult to lie flat while sleeping – the person has to sleep on two or three pillows, otherwise he/she can’t sleep properly (medical term for this is orthopnea). The fluid in the lungs can also result in the person waking up at night with a sensation of severe breathlessness. He/she sits up immediately and gasps for air (medical term for this is paroxysmal nocturnal dyspnea).
Heart failure is considered a terminal condition in the medical field. However, no disease is incurable with God when we line up with His Word and meet His conditions for healing. My grandfather had a massive heart attack. God healed him and gave him a totally new heart. At the age of 82 he has a heart and blood pressure like that of a 20 year old man. When he goes to the doctor for a check up, they cannot believe his blood pressure for his age. They often take his blood pressure two or three times to see if the blood pressure machine is not working properly. What God did for my grandfather, He will do for you! Acts 10 v 34 says that God is no respecter of persons. However you have a responsibility to deal with the underlying spiritual issues that cause heart failure. The following two chapters will help you:
- “Dealing With Fear, Anxiety And Stress” on page 523.
- “Who You Are In Christ” on page 498 – this is relevant if you have struggled with self bitterness, self-hatred, guilt, self-rejection and/or a low self-esteem.
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