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 from 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.
How To Diagnose Heart Failure
This article was medically reviewed by Jonas DeMuro, MD. Dr. DeMuro is a board certified Pediatric Critical Care Surgeon in New York. He received his MD from Stony Brook University School of Medicine in 1996. He completed his fellowship in Surgical Critical Care at North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System and was a previous American College of Surgeons Fellow.There are 11 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page.wikiHow marks an article as reader-approved once it receives enough positive feedback. In this case, 93% of readers who voted found the article helpful, earning it our reader-approved status. This article has been viewed 17,383 times.
Heart failure, or congestive heart failure, is a condition where your heart stops pumping blood like it should. Early detection of heart failure and proper treatment can help you live longer and have an active life. Learn how to diagnose heart failure so you can get the proper treatment and maintain a better quality of life.
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.
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Causes Of Congestive Heart Failure
Congestive heart failure can often develop in a person when their heart has been weakened or damaged by some other conditions.
Though, it is not always the case. Sometimes it can occur if the heart of a person becomes too stiff.
When a persons heart begins to fail, the ventricles of the heart becomes too stiff, which causes them to not fill properly. Or the heart muscles become so weak and damaged that the ventricles dilate and stretch to an extent that the efficiency of blood circulation throughout the body is affected.
There are certain other conditions that contribute towards congestive heart failure in a person. They are:
The Earliest Symptoms Of Heart Failure Are Often Very Subtle But It’s Dangerous To Ignore Them
It’s an unfortunate truth that your body slows down in your sixth and seventh decades. Climbing a flight of stairs that you once took two at a time can now feel as daunting as scaling Mount Everest. While some degree of vitality loss can be attributed to natural aging, fatigue and breathlessness may also be signals that your heart is not functioning as well as it should. “There is a general tendency for people to ignore heart failure symptoms and attribute them to just getting older. Therefore, it was very important for us to create an easy way to identify those symptoms,” says Dr. Mandeep R. Mehra, medical director of the Heart and Vascular Center at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women’s Hospital.
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How Is Congestive Heart Failure Diagnosed
Congestive heart failure happens when the heart muscles are pumping inefficiently due to fluid buildup around the heart. Its best to get tested, especially if you are at high risk for the condition or have a family history of it. Coronary artery disease, high blood pressure, and a history of heart attacks are all signs that you may be at a higher risk for congestive heart failure. If you smoke, drink excessively, have diabetes, or kidney disease, you are also at a higher risk.
Heart failure doesnt necessarily happen suddenly. It can be chronic, in which case you wont necessarily know whats going on unless you monitor yourself for signs and symptoms. These include:
- Shortness of breath, even when resting
- Reduced ability to exercise, perform regular chores, and move around
- A rapid or irregular heartbeat
- Persistent coughing or wheezing
- Weight gain as a result from fluid retention
If you notice these symptoms, see a doctor immediately. You will need to get examined and tested for the possible underlying cause of your symptoms. So, how is congestive heart failure diagnosed? Here are a few examples of the tests a doctor can perform to diagnose you. You will not need all of them to get diagnosed. Your doctor will determine which combination of tests are best to get accurate results.
What Is The Outlook With Heart Failure
With the right care, congestive heart failure wont stop you from doing the things you enjoy. Your prognosis, or outlook for the future, will depend on:
- How well your heart muscle is working.
- How well you respond to your treatment plan.
- How well you follow your treatment plan.
One study says that people with heart failure have a life span 10 years shorter than those who dont have heart failure. Another study showed that the survival rates of people with chronic heart failure were 80% to 90% for one year, but that dropped to 50% to 60% for year five and down to 30% for 10 years.
A different study found that people who had heart failure and were discharged from the hospital had expected life spans ranging from three to 20 years, depending on various factors like age and gender. Its important to look at your specific situation when considering your prognosis.
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Is Chf Due Mainly To Heart Valve Disease
CHF is most commonly caused by valvular insufficiency. It is estimated that 80% of the canine CHF cases are caused by MVI. However, there are many other causes. Disease of the heart muscle , irregularities of rhythm, and narrowing of some of the major blood vessels can also cause CHF. Initially, MVI results in left-sided congestive heart failure. If left untreated, the heart failure may progress to involve both sides of the heart.
About Congestive Heart Failure
Heart failure, sometimes called congestive cardiac failure , is a condition in which the heart muscle is weakened and cant pump as well as it usually does. The main pumping chambers of the heart can change size and thickness, and either cant contract or cant relax as well as they should. This triggers fluid retention, particularly in the lungs, legs and abdomen.
The major causes of heart failure include coronary heart disease and heart attack, high blood pressure, damage to the heart muscle , heart valve problems and abnormal heart rhythms. Of these, coronary heart disease and heart attack are the most common causes.
The major factors that contribute to coronary heart disease include:
- reduced emotional and social wellbeing
- physical inactivity.
Heart failure is more common in elderly people. The survival rate for people with this disorder depends on the severity of their condition.
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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.
Stage C Treatment Options
Treatment at this stage focuses on managing your symptoms, optimizing your heart function, and preventing worsening of your condition.
Medications to treat stage C heart failure include:
- Diuretics to reduce fluid retention
- Beta blockers to help make your heart work less hard
- SGLT2 inhibitors to reduce the risk of cardiovascular death and hospitalization for heart failure
- Angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors
- Angiotensin II receptor blockers
- Entresto , which reduces the risk of death and hospitalization among patients with chronic heart failure
- Aldosterone antagonists
- Digoxin to help the heart beat stronger and more regularly
- Possible cardiac resynchronization therapy
- Possible implantable cardiac defibrillator therapy
In addition to the lifestyle changes for stages A and B, you may need to make the following changes:
- Reduce your sodium intake
- Restrict fluid intake
- Keep track of your weight daily
Remember that even if the treatment causes your symptoms to get better or stop, you still need to continue treatment to slow the progression of your condition to stage D.
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Do Dogs Have Heart Attacks
In humans a heart attack usually refers to myocardial infarction . Myocardial infarction refers to death of the cells in an area of the heart muscle or myocardium. Cell death is usually due to oxygen deprivation caused by obstruction of the coronary blood vessels that supply blood to the heart muscles. Heart attacks are rare in dogs but unexpected and sudden death in dogs diagnosed with any form of heart disease is possible.
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
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Symptoms That Occur First
- Small appearance
- Puffiness around the eyes
However, theres a slight problem when a child is suffering from congestive heart failure. The symptoms mentioned above can very likely be mistaken for a repertory infection or colic. This makes it difficult to diagnose congestive heart failure in children and infants when compared to adults.
If you have any of these symptoms, visit your doctor immediately.
Congestive Heart Failure Drugs
There are several medications that can be used to treat CHF, including ACE inhibitors, beta-blockers, and more.
Angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors open up narrowed blood vessels to improve blood flow. Vasodilators are another option if you cant tolerate ACE inhibitors.
You may be prescribed one of the following:
voluntary recall of 5 lots of the drug Accupril due to the presence of nitrosamine. Nitrosamine, a known carcinogen with the potential to cause cancer, was found to exist in the drug at levels greater than the Acceptable Daily Intake as determined by the FDA. This recall is specific only to a handful of lot numbers and does not affect all Accupril tablets made by Pfizer. If you take Accupril tablets, talk with your pharmacist or doctor and they will help you determine if your medication has been impacted by the recall.
ACE inhibitors shouldnt be taken with the following medications without consulting a doctor, because they may cause an adverse reaction:
- Potassium-sparing diuretics and potassium supplements. These diuretics can cause potassium buildup in the blood, which may lead to abnormal heart rhythms. Examples include: riamterene , eplerenone , and spironolactone .
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs .NSAIDs such as ibuprofen, aspirin, and naproxen, can cause sodium and water retention. This may reduce the ACE inhibitors effect on your blood pressure.
This may be achieved with:
Your doctor may recommend:
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What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Congestive Heart Failure
Shortness of breath
The hallmark and most common symptom of left heart failure is shortness of breath and may occur:
Right heart failure, left heart failure, or both
Tests For Heart Failure
The doctor may suggest you get some tests to find the cause of your heart failure and see how severe it is.
Blood tests. They look at your kidney and thyroid gland health and measure your cholesterol levels. They also check if you have anemia, which happens when you don’t have enough healthy red blood cells.
B-type natriuretic peptide blood test. Brain natriuretic peptide is a substance your body makes. Your heart releases it when heart failure develops. It is turned into N-terminal pro-brain natriuretic peptide . Levels of both can be higher in people with heart failure. These tests can be used to help figure out if a patientâs shortness of breath is caused by heart failure.
Chest X-ray. This shows the size of your heart. It also lets your doctor know if there’s a buildup of fluid around your heart and lungs.
Echocardiogram. This test, often called an “echo,” shows your heart’s movement. During this exam, your doctor places a wand on the surface of your chest. It sends ultrasound waves that show pictures of your heart’s valves and chambers. Those images let your doctor look at how well your ticker is pumping.
Your doctor may combine an echocardiogram with tests called Doppler ultrasound and color Doppler to check blood flow across your heart’s valves.
Cardiac catheterization. This measures whether you have clogged heart arteries . Your doctor may also call it coronary angiogram.
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