What Procedures And Tests Diagnose Congestive Heart Failure
Congestive heart failure can be a medical emergency, especially if it acutely decompensates and the patient can present extremely ill with the inability to breathe adequately. In this situation, the ABCs of resuscitation need to be addressed while at the same time, the diagnosis of congestive heart failure is made.
Common tests that are done to help with the diagnosis of congestive heart failure include the following:
- Electrocardiogram to help assess heart rate, rhythm, and indirectly, the size of the ventricles and blood flow to the heart muscle.
- Blood tests may include a complete blood count , electrolytes, glucose, BUN, and creatinine .
- B-type natriuretic peptide may help decide if a patient has shortness of breath from congestive heart failure or a different cause. It is a chemical that is located in the heart ventricles and may be released when these muscles are overloaded.
- Echocardiography or ultrasound testing of the heart is often recommended to assess the anatomy and the function of the heart. In addition to being able to evaluate the heart valves and muscle, the test can look at blood flow within the heart, watch the chambers of the heart contract, and measure the ejection fraction .
Other tests may be considered to evaluate and monitor a patient with suspected congestive heart failure, depending upon the clinical situation.
What Is Rheumatic Fever
Rheumatic fever is an autoimmune disease that inflames the bodys tissues, such as the joints and heart. Healthcare providers may also call it acute rheumatic fever. It happens when the bodys immune system overreacts to a strep throat or scarlet fever infection that hasnt been fully treated.
Rheumatic fever causes your bodys immune system to attack its own tissues, causing inflammation . Rheumatic fever may affect the joints, heart or blood vessels.
Prevalence And Characteristics Of Pruritus In Patients With Heart Failure
- The British Journal of Dermatology
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Dark Velvety Skin Patches
You may find these thick spots, called acanthosis nigricans, in skin folds and creases such as your neck, armpits, and groin when your body has trouble using the hormone insulin. The patches could have skin tags, too. If you aren’t being treated for insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, or type 2 diabetes, see your doctor for help controlling your blood sugar and protecting your heart.
Children Most Often Affected
Although anyone can get rheumatic fever, it is more common in school-age children . Rheumatic fever is very rare in children younger than 3 years old and adults.
Infectious illnesses, including group A strep, tend to spread wherever large groups of people gather. Crowded conditions can increase the risk of getting strep throat or scarlet fever, and thus rheumatic fever if they are not treated properly. These settings include:
- Daycare centers
- Military training facilities
Someone who had rheumatic fever in the past is more likely to get rheumatic fever again if they get strep throat or scarlet fever again.
Doctors look to see how well the heart is working when diagnosing rheumatic fever.
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When Should I Call The Doctor
If you suspect your child may have strep throat or scarlet fever, dont wait to call your provider. Early treatment can prevent rheumatic fever.
Common signs of these bacterial infections include:
- Sore throat that lasts more than three days.
- Lack of appetite .
- Swollen, red, or spotted tonsils .
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Rheumatic fever is a rare complication. It can happen when treatments dont eliminate strep throat or scarlet fever. It most commonly affects young children and teens. In severe cases, it can lead to serious health problems that affect the heart, joints or other organs. You can prevent rheumatic fever by seeing your provider right away if you suspect one of these common bacterial infections. People with rheumatic fever often need lifelong medical care to protect their health.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 12/31/2020.
A Gray Blue Or Purple Lacy Skin Pattern
Gray, blue or purple skin that appears in a web or lace-like pattern on the skin may be a sign of blocked arteries caused by high cholesterol. When cholesterol levels are too high, fatty deposits begin to build up in the arteries and prevent proper blood flow. While this doesnt necessarily indicate heart disease, high cholesterol does increase the risk of developing heart disease or a heart attack.
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Questions To Ask A Pediatric Cardiologist
It can be overwhelming to learn that your child has a heart condition, but these questions can help guide the conversation with your child’s cardiologist:
- How will this diagnosis affect my child and his ability to run, play and be a kid?
- What course of treatment do you recommend for this diagnosis?
- Are there any risks with this type of treatment?
- What can I do as a parent to help slow the progression of the condition?
Despite how scary it may seem to have a child with a heart problem, advances in modern medicine have greatly improved outcomes for pediatric heart disease, and most kids with heart conditions grow up healthy and are able to thrive.
Down Syndrome And Ellis
Ellis-van Creveld syndrome includes ectodermal dysplasia and polydactyly. Down syndrome is characterized by typical moon facies. Both are associated with AV septal defects. AV septal defects account for 4-5% of congenital heart defects. Malformations are characterized by varying degrees of incomplete development of the lower portion of atrial septum, the inflow of the ventricular septum, and the AV valves . The basic defect is a deficiency of the AV septum, which separates the left ventricular inflow from the right atrium. The anomalies range from a small ostium primum atrial defect to a complete AV malformation involving defects in the interventricular septum and the mitral and tricuspid valves. The common AV valve frequently is abnormal, with 5 or 6 leaflets of variable size.
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How Is Rheumatic Fever Treated
Rheumatic fever treatments first focus on getting rid of the bacterial infection. Treatments then address inflammation inside the body.
Rheumatic fever treatments include:
- Antibiotics: Healthcare providers prescribe antibiotics to treat the underlying bacterial infection. Some antibiotics are one injection . Others you take by mouth for a week or more.
- Anti-inflammatory medications: Your provider will likely recommend a medication, such as aspirin, to reduce inflammation throughout the body. This medication may also relieve symptoms, such as joint pain. For severe symptoms, your provider may prescribe a stronger medication to fight inflammation.
- Other therapies: Rheumatic fever can affect people in different ways. Your provider may recommend other treatments based on how the condition affects you. In severe cases, you may need heart surgery or joint treatments to treat serious complications.
Skin Discoloration Thickening And Swelling Of The Lower Legs
Stasis dermatitis is commonly seen in the dermatology office. This condition is due to venous insufficiency. This means the heart is not working properly because the valves in the leg veins are malfunctioning causing backflow of blood in the lower legs. This leads to fluid accumulation and swelling.
Symptoms of stasis dermatitis include: red dry itchy skin, shiny swollen skin, red ulcers that ooze, in severe cases the lower legs become so swollen and ulcerated infection occurs.
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What Causes Rheumatic Fever
Rheumatic fever is an overreaction of your bodys immune system that causes it to fight healthy tissues. An untreated strep throat or scarlet fever infection can trigger this overreaction. It happens when group A streptococcus infections are not adequately treated with antibiotics.
When your bodys defenses begin to fight back, the reaction can damage healthy tissues and organs instead of the bacteria.
Can You Prevent Congestive Heart Failure
Congestive heart failure can be the ultimate result of a number of diseases, or lifestyle choices, that damage the heart. Some of these can be prevented. Others cannot be prevented but can be treated successfully.
Some examples of illnesses or lifestyle choices that can lead to congestive heart failure are as follows:
- Coronary heart disease , including heart attack
- Uncontrolled high blood pressure
- Congenital heart disease
- Damage to the heart valves
In some cases, a family history of heart failure can be present. Many cases are a combination of factors, and in other cases, the cause is unknown.
If a person has congestive heart failure, they are at increased risk of developing pneumonia. They probably should receive both the pneumonia vaccination and annual flu shots. Patients should ask their doctor or other health care professional to be sure.
What Is Congestive Heart Failure
Heart failure describes the inability or failure of the heart to meet the needs of organs and tissues for oxygen and nutrients. This decrease in cardiac output, the amount of blood that the heart pumps, is not adequate to circulate the blood returning to the heart from the body and lungs, causing the fluid to leak from capillary blood vessels. This leads to symptoms that may include shortness of breath, weakness, and swelling.
Understanding blood flow in the heart and body
The right side of the heart pumps blood to the lungs while the left side pumps blood to the rest of the body. Blood from the body enters the right atrium through the vena cava. It then flows into the right ventricle where it is pumped to the lungs through the pulmonary artery, which carries deoxygenated blood to the lungs. In the lungs, oxygen is loaded onto red blood cells and returns to the left atrium of the heart via the pulmonary veins. Blood then flows into the left ventricle where it is pumped to the organs and tissues of the body. Oxygen is downloaded from red blood cells into the various organs while carbon dioxide, a waste product of metabolism, is added to be removed in the lungs. Blood then returns to the right atrium to start the cycle again. The pulmonary veins are unusual in that they carry oxygenated blood, while the pulmonary artery carries deoxygenated blood. This is a reversal of duties versus the roles of veins and arteries in the rest of the body.
Improving Quality Of Life
Currently, CHF has no cure. People living with the disease have to commit to heart-healthy lifestyles and take medication regularly.
To stay healthy, here are some tips to follow.
Tips for Living Better with CHF
- Monitor symptoms and check for sudden weight gain and swelling in legs and feet.
- Monitor blood pressure and weight and get lab work done regularly to be aware of your heart health and disease progression.
- Stay positive and find ways to alleviate stress including finding relaxing hobbies, talking to a therapist, finding a support group or talking to loved ones and friends.
- Ask questions about the stage of your disease and guidelines for how active you should be. This includes work, sex and exercise. Depending on the stage of disease, your doctor will have different recommendations about how active you should be, including work, sexm and exercise.
- Keep all appointments with your doctors.
- Make all the lifestyle changes your doctor recommends. If you need help with your diet, ask to see a nutritionist or dietician.
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Heart Disease: 12 Warning Signs That Appear On Your Skin
Warning signs can appear on your skin and nails, which is why your dermatologist may be the first doctor to notice that you have heart disease. If you know what to look for, you can also find warning signs of heart disease on your skin and nails. The following pictures show you what to look for.
Swelling in your feet and lower legsWhat it may be telling you: Your heart isnt working properly.Many diseases of the heart cause fluid to build up in your feet and lower legs. As the fluid builds up, you may see swelling, which can extend as far as the upper legs and groin.Medical name: Edema
Blue or purple color on your skinWhat it may be telling you: You have a blockage in a blood vessel.When youre extremely cold, your skin can turn blue . If an area of your skin is blue when youre warm, thats can be a sign your blood isnt getting enough oxygen. The patient in this photo has a condition known as blue toe syndrome, which happens when one or more blood vessels are blocked.Without treatment, the lack of oxygen can cause the skin and underlying tissue to eventually die.Medical name: Cyanosis
Nails curve downward and the ends of your fingers are swollenWhat it may be telling you: You may have a heart infection, heart disease, or lung problem.For many people, these signs are harmless. That said, if your fingers and nails look like this, its best to find out if you may have a medical condition, such as lung disease or a heart problem.Medical name: Clubbing
Cold Feet And Shiny Hairless Legs
If you have peripheral artery disease , which occurs when narrowed arteries reduce blood flow to the limbs, your legs and feet may feel cold. Your legs might also lose hair, appear shiny and turn pale when elevated. Your toes might turn blueish-purple.
Medication can improve blood flow and help prevent PAD from worsening, though sometimes bypass surgery is necessary to reroute blood flow around a clogged artery. In other cases, a doctor can unclog a blocked leg artery with a less invasive procedure called angioplasty.
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When To Call 911 For Heart Failure
- Chest discomfort or pain that lasts more than 15 minutes
- Severe or persistent shortness of breath
- Fainting or passing out
- A fast or irregular heartbeat, palpitations or a racing heart that does not go away
- A need to sleep sitting up on more pillows than usual
- Frothy or pink tinged sputum when coughing
Protect Yourself And Others
Having a group A strep infection does not protect someone from getting infected again in the future. People can also get rheumatic fever more than once. However, there are things people can do to protect themselves and others.
Good hygiene helps prevent group A strep infections
Antibiotics are key to treatment and prevention
The main ways to prevent rheumatic fever are to
- Treat group A strep infections with antibiotics
- Prevent group A strep infections in the first place by washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
- Use preventive antibiotics for people who had rheumatic fever in the past
Preventive antibiotics help protect people who had rheumatic fever from getting it again. Doctors also call this prophylaxis or secondary prevention. People may need antibiotic prophylaxis over a period of many years . Prophylaxis can include daily antibiotics by mouth or a shot into the muscle every few weeks. More guidance on taking antibiotics can be found on CDCs Antibiotic Dos & Donts Page.
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What Is Kawasaki Disease
Kawasaki disease causes the body’s own immune system to attack healthy tissues, leading to inflammation in the coronary arteries and heart muscles. It’s the leading cause of acquired heart disease in children in the U.S. Kawasaki disease is most commonly seen in Asian children or children of Pacific Island descent, and it tends to affect more boys than girls. About 80 percent of children diagnosed are under 5 years old.
Noncardiac symptoms of Kawasaki disease include a fever lasting five or more days, a rash, red or bloodshot eyes, swollen or cracked lips, a red strawberry tongue, swollen hands and feet, and swollen lymph nodes.
Additionally, many parents are surprised to learn that children can develop high blood pressure and high cholesterol, potential precursors to serious problems like a heart attack or stroke.
What Is The Prognosis And Life Expectancy For Congestive Heart Failure
- The degree to which other organ systems are involved and the severity of other accompanying conditions
- The person’s symptoms and degree of impairment
- Other factors that remain poorly understood
With the availability of newer drugs to potentially favorably affect the progression of the disease, the prognosis in congestive heart failure is generally more favorable than that observed just 10 years ago. In some cases, especially when the heart muscle dysfunction has recently developed, a significant spontaneous improvement is not uncommonly observed, even to the point where heart function becomes normal.
Heart failure is often graded on a scale of I to IV based on the patient’s ability to function.
The prognosis of heart failure patients is very closely associated with the functional class.
An important issue in congestive heart failure is the risk of heart rhythm disturbances . Of those deaths that occur in individuals with congestive heart failure, approximately 50% are related to progressive heart failure. Importantly, the other half are thought to be related to serious arrhythmias.
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