Congestive Heart Failure: Prevention Treatment And Research
Congestive heart failure is a serious condition in which the heart doesnt pump blood as efficiently as it should. Despite its name, heart failure doesnt mean that the heart has literally failed or is about to stop working. Rather, it means that the heart muscle has become less able to contract over time or has a mechanical problem that limits its ability to fill with blood. As a result, it cant keep up with the bodys demand, and blood returns to the heart faster than it can be pumped outit becomes congested, or backed up. This pumping problem means that not enough oxygen-rich blood can get to the bodys other organs.
The body tries to compensate in different ways. The heart beats faster to take less time for refilling after it contractsbut over the long run, less blood circulates, and the extra effort can cause heart palpitations. The heart also enlarges a bit to make room for the blood. The lungs fill with fluid, causing shortness of breath. The kidneys, when they dont receive enough blood, begin to retain water and sodium, which can lead to kidney failure. With or without treatment, heart failure is often and typically progressive, meaning it gradually gets worse.
More than 5 million people in the United States have congestive heart failure. Its the most common diagnosis in hospitalized patients over age 65. One in nine deaths has heart failure as a contributing cause.
Remember To Stay In Touch With Your Doctor
In the end, heres what to keep in mind: If youre at increased risk for heart failure, be sure to discuss with your primary care doctor how to stay heart-healthy and whether you would benefit from regular heart failure screening and blood tests. Especially if one of your family members has been diagnosed with heart disease, letting your doctor know the details is essential to getting the right care yourself. And if you do have a heart failure diagnosis, be sure to follow your care teams instructions for treatment to work best.
Heart failure is a serious cardiology condition. Thats why its so important to know where your heart health stands to help ensure your heart gets the care it needs. Whether youre experiencing symptoms of heart failure, youre at risk or you just want to make sure your heart is as healthy as it should be, scheduling an appointment with one of our primary care doctors is a great first step toward better heart wellness for life.
What Are The Types Of Heart Failure
There are many causes of heart failure, but the condition is generally broken down into two types:
Heart failure with reduced left ventricular function The lower left chamber of the heart gets bigger and cannot squeeze hard enough to pump the right amount of oxygen-rich blood to the rest of the body.
Heart failure with preserved left ventricular function The heart contracts and pumps normally, but the bottom chambers of the heart are thicker and stiffer than normal. Because of this, the ventricles can’t relax properly and fill up all the way. Because there’s less blood in the ventricles, less blood is pumped out to the rest of the body when the heart contracts.
Recommended Reading: How Much Can Marijuana Increase A Person’s Heart Rate
Stent Blockages Causing Heart Attack:
One of the major problems with stents is that they may get blocked. So, another heart stent failure symptom is stent blockages. These blockages in stent can also result in heart attack and severe chest pain, especially during exercising. Heart attack occurs because the blockages in the stent obstruct the flow of blood to the heart muscles and thus results in a heart attack.
The stent blockage is often caused by cancer that is growing through the heart stent. In such case, another stent has to be replaced so as to treat the blockage. The blockages may also be due to a sudden blood clot and the accumulation of tissues.
Stage D And Reduced E
Patients with Stage D HF-rEF have advanced symptoms that do not get better with treatment. This is the final stage of heart failure.
Stage D treatment
The usual treatment plan for patients with Stage D heart failure includes:
- Treatments listed in Stages A, B and C.
- Evaluation for more advanced treatment options, including:
- Heart transplant.
- Research therapies.
What Changes Should I Make After A Heart Failure Diagnosis
If you’ve been diagnosed with heart failure, you and your doctor will work on a plan of medications and diet that will cut down on the fluid buildup in your body. This will make it easier for your heart to do its job. A low-salt diet is key to this goal as well, and a registered dietitian can teach you how to modify your food and meal choices.
Once a patient has developed heart failure, one of the key components of management is dietary modifications, Dr. Rao explained. The more sodium we consume, the more likely a heart failure patient is to have fluid retention, and this is what often leads to the heart failure admissions and worse outcomes.
We try to focus on foods that are low in sodium. I often tell patients to focus not on eating foods such as TV dinners, canned soups and try not to use the salt shaker, which is very difficult to do, but ultimately will make a big difference for the patient in the long run.
Most patients can even continue to exercise or begin a new exercise routine.. Forpeople with heart failure, the American Heart Association suggests gradually working up to 30 minutes of exercise a day, or whatever your doctor recommends. At the same time, you’ll have to be careful not to overdo it. Your doctor can help you find an exercise routine that’s right for you.
HealthDay News contributed information to this article.
Common Signs And Symptoms Of Heart Failure
It is very important for you to manage your other health conditions, such as diabetes, kidney disease, anemia, high blood pressure, thyroid disease and asthma or chronic lung disease. Some conditions have signs and symptoms that are similar to heart failure. If you have new or worsening non-urgent symptoms, tell your healthcare provider.
Read Also: Does Tylenol Increase Heart Rate
After A Heart Failure Diagnosis You May Need To Overhaul Your Lifestyle
Jaswal had his first heart attack at age 32, and subsequent heart attacks throughout the 1990s. Still, he continued to brush off advice from his doctors. I went back and forth and couldnt quit everything, he says.
When he was diagnosed with heart failure in the late 1990s, though, he knew that he had to make changes right away. All of my lifestyle had to be changed. I had to adjust to a new diet regimen and exercise.
Although Jessup notes that less-than-optimal lifestyle habits alone are not known to cause heart failure, they could be a factor in the condition. For example, a poor lifestyle can lead to hypertension, which can cause heart failure, she says.
What Is Heart Failure What Does Heart Failure Mean
Heart failure is when your heart doesnt work as well as it should. There are two types of heart failure: heart failure with reduced ejection fraction and heart failure with preserved ejection fraction .
If you have heart failure with reduced ejection fraction, your heart cant pump blood very effectively, so less blood makes it out of the heart. If you have heart failure with preserved ejection fraction, your heart is stiff and cant fully relax after pumping, so less blood enters the heart.
Heart failure isnt the same as cardiac arrest, which is when your heart suddenly stops working. Instead, heart failure generally develops over time.
Don’t Miss: Afrin Heart Palpitations
What Medications Should I Avoid If I Have Heart Failure
There are several different types of medications that are best avoided in those with heart failure including:
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications such as Motrin or Aleve. For relief of aches, pains, or fever take Tylenol instead.
- Most calcium channel blockers
- Some nutritional supplements, such as salt substitutes, and growth hormone therapies
- Antacids that contain sodium
If youâre taking any of these drugs, discuss them with your doctor.
Itâs important to know the names of your medications, what theyâre used for, and how often and at what times you take them. Keep a list of your medications and bring them with you to each of your doctor visits. Never stop taking your medications without discussing it with your doctor. Even if you have no symptoms, your medications decrease the work of your heart so that it can pump more effectively.
Why Its Important To Know Your Ef
If you have a heart condition, it is important for you and your doctor to know your EF. Your EF can help your doctor determine the best course of treatment for you. Measuring your EF also helps your healthcare team check how well our treatment is working.
Ask your doctor how often you should have your EF checked. In general, you should have your EF measured when you are first diagnosed with a heart condition, and as needed when your condition changes.
You May Like: Why Do Av Nodal Cells Not Determine The Heart Rate
Can The Heart Repair Itself After Congestive Heart Failure
Your pumping organ has the potential to grow new muscle and heal itself in some cases. However, the regeneration rate is so sluggish that it cant repair the damage done by myocardial infarction. Thats why, in the aftermath of myocardial infarction, scar tissue forms instead of functioning muscle tissue.
These scar tissues arent made of cardiomyocytes . Instead, they are made of fibroblasts. They have no pumping ability. Thus, your vital organ will get weaker and weaker over time. However, with the proper treatment from your doctor, this organ can sometimes become stronger.
Your Legs Feet And Ankles Are Swollen
This could be a sign that your heart doesnât pump blood as effectively as it should.
When the heart can’t pump fast enough, blood backs up in the veins and causes bloating.
Heart failure can also make it harder for the kidneys to remove extra water and sodium from the body, which can lead to bloating.
Read Also: How To Calculate Target Heart Rate Zone
What Should I Do If I Or A Loved One Is Having A Heart Attack
If you suspect you or someone around you is having a heart attack, you need to act quickly. First , call 911. Do not attempt to drive yourself or anyone you know to the hospital. While the ambulance is on the way, take these steps if youre having a heart attack:
If youre not the one having the heart attack, administer CPR if necessary.
Warning Signs Of Heart Failure
By themselves, any one sign of heart failure may not be cause for alarm. But if you have more than one of these symptoms, even if you haven’t been diagnosed with any heart problems, report them to a healthcare professional and ask for an evaluation of your heart. Congestive heart failure is a type of heart failure which requires seeking timely medical attention, although sometimes the two terms are used interchangeably.
If you have been diagnosed with heart failure, it’s important for you to manage and keep track of symptoms and report any sudden changes to your healthcare team.
This table lists the most common signs and symptoms, explains why they occur and describes how to recognize them.
Read Also: Does Benadryl Lower Heart Rate
A Patient’s Anxiety Or Heart Disease
One patient I saw, who was over age 70, had a lifelong history of anxiety and panic attacks. She’d stopped leaving her home out of fear of another attack after she’d tried multiple anxiety medications without benefit. But when I saw her, we found that each episode of her anxiety was caused by a rapid heart rhythm. It was easily corrected by a simple procedure called an ablation.
Shortly after the ablation, she attended a close relative’s wedding free of anxiety. This was the first time she’d participated in a large family activity in nearly 40 years.
How Is Heart Failure Treated/managed
Treatment of heart failure depends on the underlying cause and this will direct the main treatment to prevent further deterioration. Heart failure can be cured if it has a treatable cause.
If the causes are due to coronary heart disease then the patient may require coronary stents or . If there is a heart valve cause, then the defective valve will need surgery to repair or replace the valve.
All heart failure patients will need:
- Lifestyle changes including eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly and stopping smoking and watching fluid intake and reduce alcohol consumption.
- Medicine a range of medicines can help many people need to take three to four different types which have evidence to show they strengthen the heart and improve prognosis. This includes beta-blockers, ACE inhibitors, ARNI and SGLT2 inhibitors. Other medicines, such as diuretics, may be used to help with the symptoms.
In cases where patients are seen to be experiencing continued deteriorating heart function despite the best and optimal medication, the following may be considered:
- Cardiac resynchronising therapy In very severe heart failure conditions, a specialised type of pacemaker has shown to benefit and improve symptoms as well as prolonging life by resynchronising the contractility of the two main pumping chambers of the heart.
- Cardiac transplant If there is no scope for recovery and the condition deteriorates then in suitable patients, a heart transplant may be considered.
Read Also: Does Benadryl Lower Heart Rate
What Are Congestive Heart Failure Symptoms
If your heart is only slightly weaker than it should be, you may not notice any symptoms at all. Some people can go for years without even suspecting that they have a problem. But if the heart loses enough strength, heart failure becomes impossible to ignore. The main symptoms of heart failure are shortness of breath, fatigue, and fluid retention . Even a short trip up the stairs can leave you gasping. You may also have a cough that gets worse at night. And at bedtime, you may notice that it’s hard to breathe when you lie down flat.
- Rapid weight gain
- Shortness of breath, especially when lying down
- Swelling in the hands, feet, legs or stomach
- Dizziness and confusion
Certainly, the term heart failure itself engenders a lot of concern among people because they think that my heart is failing, said Vijay U. Rao, MD, PhD, a Franciscan Physician Network cardiologist in Indianapolis whose practice focuses on advanced heart failure.The outcomes with folks with heart failure are getting better with new treatments and therapies. But it’s definitely something that needs to be taken seriously.”
Things I Didnt Know About Heart Failure Until It Happened To Me
People living with heart failure share what theyve learned about the condition.
Heart failure is a chronic condition that affects nearly six million Americans, according to the American Heart Association . The disease is often misunderstood, and while better testing and awareness are making it easier to identify, living with heart failure is challenging.
Here, patients who have heart failure share things that surprised them about the condition, and how theyve learned to cope.
Read Also: How Accurate Is Fitbit Charge 2 Heart Rate
Warning Signs And Symptoms Of Heart Disease
Heart disease often develops over time. You may have early signs or symptoms long before you have serious heart problems. Or, you may not realize you are developing heart disease. The warning signs of heart disease may not be obvious. Also, not every person has the same symptoms.
Certain symptoms, such as chest pain, ankle swelling, and shortness of breath may be signals that something is wrong. Learning the warning signs can help you get treatment and help prevent a heart attack or stroke.
Heart Failure Is Not A Heart Attack
People assume it means somebody had a heart attack, and thats not true, says Dr. Jessup. Heart failure is a problem with the muscle.
While a heart attack results from blockage of blood flow to the heart , heart failure is a backup of blood into the lungs, abdomen, and legs that can lead to symptoms such as breathlessness and swelling.
Read Also: Can Prednisone Cause Heart Palpitations
What Are The Stages Of Congestive Heart Failure
The New York Heart Association has developed a scale that commonly is used to determine the functional capabilities of heart failure.
New York Heart Association Functional Classification of Heart Failure