How Quickly Does Heart Failure Develop
Heart failure is usually a chronic disease. That means its a long-term condition that tends to become worse gradually. By the time someone is diagnosed, chances are that the heart has been losing pumping capacity little by little for quite a while. At first the heart tries to make up for this by:
- Enlarging. When the heart chamber enlarges, it stretches more and can contract more strongly, so it pumps more blood.
- Developing more muscle mass. The increase in muscle mass occurs because the contracting cells of the heart get bigger. This allows the heart to pump more forcefully, at least initially.
- Pumping faster. This helps to increase the hearts output.
The body also tries to compensate in other ways. The blood vessels narrow to keep blood pressure up, trying to make up for the hearts loss of power. The body diverts blood away from less important tissues and organs to maintain flow to the most vital organs, the heart and brain. These temporary measures mask the problem of heart failure, but they dont solve it. This helps explain why some people may not become aware of their condition until years after their heart begins its decline. Eventually the heart and body just cant keep up and the person experiences the fatigue, breathing problems, or other symptoms that usually prompt a trip to the doctor.
What Are The First Signs Of Congestive Heart Failure In A Chihuahua
The first signs of CHF may be subtle and easily missed. They can include exercise intolerance, coughing, wheezing, and difficulty breathing. As the condition progresses, the symptoms will become more severe. Chihuahuas with CHF may eventually experience heart failure, leading to sudden death. If you notice these signs in your chihuahua, it is important to seek veterinary care immediately.
How Is Congestive Heart Failure Treated
Doctors will assess the current health status of the patient to establish a baseline, and develop a long-term health plan. This may involve the optimization of medicines and therapies, adding new medication, or possibly enrollment in a clinical trial.
Stabilizing and/or reversing a patients condition often involves long-term, collaborative follow-up with a referring cardiologist or physician.
In serious situations, advanced therapies, which include mechanical solutions, a heart transplant, or hospice, may be offered.
Don’t Miss: Early.signs Of Heart Attack
Articles On Heart Failure Types & Stages
Congestive heart failure doesn’t mean your heart has stopped. It means it’s not pumping blood the way it should. When that happens, blood and fluid can back up in your body and make it harder for your kidneys to flush out sodium and water. That can make you hold on to too much fluid, which causes swelling.
There’s no cure. But your doctor may give you medication to do things like lower your blood pressure, relax your blood vessels, make your heart beat stronger, or ease swelling. And diet and lifestyle changes — like not smoking — can help, too.
What Types Of Congestive Heart Failure Are There
Your heart consists of four chambers, with the upper two being the left and right atria, and the lower two being the left and right ventricles. The atria receive blood as it enters the heart so that the ventricles can then pump it through the bodys circulatory system and supply blood to the bodys tissues and organs.
There are two main types of CHF, with the most common being left-sided CHF and the other being right-sided CHF.
Left-sided CHF occurs when the left ventricle cant pump enough blood. This results in the lungs filling with fluid, causing breathing to become difficult.
This may be due to either:
- Systolic failureSystolic failure occurs when the left ventricle cant contract normally, which prevents it from moving enough blood through the circulatory system.
- Diastolic failureWith diastolic failure, the muscles of the left ventricle become rigid. This prevents the chamber from refilling with enough blood to then be pumped through the circulatory system.
With right-sided CHF, the right ventricle is unable to pump enough blood to the lungs which can result in blood accumulating in the bodys vessels. This causes fluid buildup in the lower extremities, abdomen and other vital organs.
While it is possible to have both right-sided and left-sided CHF at the same time, the disease typically starts on the left and moves to the right as it progressively worsens. This is why early detection and treatment are critical.
Donât Miss: Can Flonase Cause Heart Palpitations
Recommended Reading: Who Performed The First Open Heart Surgery In The World
When To Seek Hospice Care
Even physicians have difficulty determining life expectancy for people with end-stage heart-failure. The condition can be unpredictable, and symptoms can change. However, certain signs can indicate that hospice care would be beneficial, including:
- frequent chest pain
- significant fatigue or shortness of breath
- substantial decline in ability to do daily activities, such as self-care
- The patient has already received the best possible treatment, which are no longer working well, and the patient is not a candidate for other interventions.
- The patient has received the best possible treatment and has decided to decline further specialized interventions.
People can be reluctant to start hospice, as they may worry it means theyre giving up or that it will hasten death. But such concerns are unfounded. In fact, patients and families often wish they had started hospice sooner, because it makes such a positive difference in their lives. And research shows that early admission to hospice results in greater satisfaction with care among patients and family caregivers.
Read Also: Benadryl Arrhythmia
How Is Chf Diagnosed
After reporting your symptoms to your doctor, they may refer you to a heart specialist, or cardiologist.
The cardiologist will perform a physical exam, which will involve listening to your heart with a stethoscope to detect abnormal heart rhythms.
To confirm an initial diagnosis, a cardiologist might order certain diagnostic tests to examine your hearts valves, blood vessels, and chambers.
There are a variety of tests used to diagnose heart conditions. Because these tests measure different things, your doctor may recommend a few to get a full picture of your current condition.
Also Check: Heart Shaped Nipple Surgery
What Treatment Can You Provide For A Dog With Congestive Heart Failure
A general practice veterinarian can provide a referral to a board-certified veterinary cardiologist who specializes in treating patients with heart issues. With their continued monitoring and guidance, they are the ones who can give the best advice on the management and prognosis of the patient such as nutrition, medication, and activity, Dr. Klein says.
For instance, they can recommend an appropriate amount of exercise or a low-sodium diet to reduce pressure on the heart. In addition, a veterinary cardiologist may prescribe medications to help remove fluids and slow the progression of CHF.
How Can I Improve My Quality Of Life With Heart Failure
There are several things you can do to improve your quality of life if you have heart failure. Among them:
- Eat a healthy diet. Limit your consumption of sodium to less than 1,500 milligrams each day. Eat foods high in fiber. Limit foods high in trans fat, cholesterol, and sugar. Reduce total daily intake of calories to lose weight if necessary.
- Exercise regularly. A regular cardiovascular exercise program, prescribed by your doctor, will help improve your strength and make you feel better. It may also decrease heart failure progression.
- Don’t overdo it. Plan your activities and include rest periods during the day. Certain activities, such as pushing or pulling heavy objects and shoveling may worsen heart failure and its symptoms.
- Prevent respiratory infections. Ask your doctor about flu and pneumonia vaccines.
- Take your medications as prescribed. Do not stop taking them without first contacting your doctor.
- Get emotional or psychological support if needed. Heart failure can be difficult for your whole family. If you have questions, ask your doctor or nurse. If you need emotional support, social workers, psychologists, clergy, and heart failure support groups are a phone call away. Ask your doctor or nurse to point you in the right direction.
How Do I Reduce My Risk For Heart Failure
You can reduce your risk for heart failure by controlling the conditions which can lead to heart failure. Actions such as quitting smoking, eating a healthy diet, and exercising regularly are recommended for all patients. People should have their blood sugar, cholesterol, and blood pressure checked regularly.
Finally, you should meet with an experienced cardiologist if you have risks for heart disease, possible symptoms, or family history.
What Are The Stages Of Congestive Heart Failure
The American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association, classify heart failure using a four-stage system ranging from stages A through stage D2. These apply to all types of heart failure, including congestive heart failure:
- Stage A: In this stage, you simply have a variety of risk factors, such as hypertension , diabetes, or a family history of heart disease3, that increase your chances of developing heart failure. At this point, you dont have heart failure yet.
- Stage B: In this stage, your hearts valves, walls, or chambers have become damaged from events like a prior heart attack, according to Mount Sinai, but you havent yet developed heart failure.
- Stage C: Now, youre starting to show signs of heart failure. For example, you may develop congestion and become short of breath easily.
- Stage D: This is when heart failure becomes serious, so you could have symptoms even if you take congestive heart failure medication to treat your condition. People in this stage may need more advanced treatments, such as a heart transplant or a mechanical pump to assist the heart.
Back to top
Recommended Reading: Aha Heart Failure Classification
Preventing And Living With Chf
Because heart failure is a serious, progressive condition, prevention is important. For people living with CHF, there are things they can do to stop or slow disease progression and improve their quality of life.
- Limit alcohol intake to 1 drink a day or avoid it
- Dont drink more than 4 cups of coffee a day
- Dont use illegal drugs
- Talk to your doctor about medications that may increase CHF risk
- Treat any existing conditions that may lead to CHF
Can Congestive Heart Failure Start Suddenly
The human heart is an amazing contraption. About once every second, more than 86,000 times each day, your heart squeezes a fistful of blood into your arteries and sends oxygen, nutrients, hormones and other vital substances coursing toward every cell in your body. Its a miracle this hardworking pump doesnt fail more frequently. When it does — and your heart can fail quite suddenly — some of the fluid within your blood vessels backs up into your tissues and organs, leading to the “congestion” that characterizes heart failure.
Don’t Miss: How Much Do Beta Blockers Lower Heart Rate
What Is Heart Failure
Heart failure means that your heart can’t pump enough oxygen-rich blood to meet your body’s needs. Heart failure doesn’t mean that your heart has stopped or is about to stop beating. But without enough blood flow, your organs may not work well, which can cause serious problems.
Heart failure can affect one or both sides of your heart:
- With right-sided heart failure, your heart is too weak to pump enough blood to your lungs to get oxygen.
- With left-sided heart failure, your heart can’t pump enough oxygen-rich blood out to your body. This happens when the left side of your heart becomes either:
- Too weak to pump enough blood.
- Too thick or stiff to relax and fill with enough blood.
Left-sided heart failure is more common than right-sided heart failure.
Surgery For Heart Failure
- Coronary bypass surgery treats blocked arteries by removing healthy arteries from other parts of the body and using them to reroute blood around clogged arteries. This improves blood flow to the heart. If severely blocked arteries are a contributing factor to your heart failure, your physician may suggest bypass surgery.
- Heart valve replacement modifies a faulty heart valve to eliminate backward blood flow. A surgeon will either repair the valve, if possible, or replace it with an artificial valve.
- Ventricular assist devices are mechanical pumps implanted in the abdomen or chest and attached to the weakened heart. The devices help pump blood from the lower heart chamber to the rest of your body.
- Implantable cardioverter-defibrillators are implanted beneath the skin in the chest with wires leading through the veins and into the heart. These devices monitor heart rhythm and will shock the heart back into normal rhythm if it develops a life-threatening arrhythmia. They can also act as pacemakers, speeding up the heart if it begins beating too slowly.
- Cardiac resynchronization therapy, also known as biventricular pacing, sends electrical pulses to the hearts lower chambers to help them pump more efficiently.
- Heart transplant is an option in the most serious heart failure cases, when medication or surgery do not help. The procedure involves removing the damaged heart and replacing it with a healthy one from an organ donor.
You May Like: High Heart Rate And Low Blood Pressure
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.
Sleep Apnea And Heart Failure
People who have sleep apnea experience interruptions in breathing that can last 10 seconds or more and occur repeatedly throughout the night, as many as 30 times or more in the span of an hour.
This chronic disruption of the normal sleep cycle can leave individuals with the condition feeling exhausted and sleepy during the day, and it will put them at an increased risk of health problems associated with inadequate sleep, including irritability, problems with memory or concentration, anxiety, and depression.
Sleep apnea is commonly found in people with heart failure.
Also Check: How Old Do You Have To Be To Have A Heart Attack
What Are The Symptoms Of Congestive Heart Failure
Knowing what symptoms to look for depends on the source of the problem. As Dr. Klein explains, there are two basic forms of CHF: left-sided failure and right-sided failure. Since left-sided CHF is more common, theres greater awareness of the accompanying symptoms, including:
- Persistent, usually moist cough, even when the dog is resting or sleeping
- Increased and often shallow respiratory rate
- Labored breathing, even when the dog is not coughing
- Pale or cyanotic gums and mucous membranes, usually accompanied by a heart murmur
The symptoms most often associated with right-sided CHF are:
- Possible swelling of the extremities , also associated with a heart murmur
Facts About Heart Failure In The United States
- About 6.2 million adults in the United States have heart failure.1
- In 2018, heart failure was mentioned on 379,800 death certificates .1
- Heart failure costs the nation an estimated $30.7 billion in 2012.2 This total includes the cost of health care services, medicines to treat heart failure, and missed days of work.
Read Also: Can Blood Clots Cause Heart Attack
What Are Some Congestive Heart Failure Causes
According to the Mayo Clinic and the NHLBI, the most common congestive heart failure causes include:
- High blood pressure, which describes how forcefully your blood pushes against the walls of your arteries. Chronically high blood pressure can cause heart damage.
- Coronary artery disease, which happens when the arteries in your heart become narrow, restricting blood flow.
- Heart attack, which develops when part of the hearts muscle doesnt receive enough blood. This often occurs suddenly and can permanently damage your heart.
- Diabetes, which can damage your blood vessels and the nerves in your heart.
- Endocarditis, which is when harmful pathogens like bacteria get into your blood and infect previously-damaged heart tissue.
- Metabolic syndrome, which means you have several risk factors that increase your risk for heart disease. These include high blood pressure, a larger waistline, high blood sugar, high triglycerides , and low HDL cholesterol levels.
- Heart valve disease, which is when at least one of your four valves doesnt fully open or close.
- Congenital heart defects, which is when parts of your heart dont form properly. This generally happens before youre born and makes your heart work harder.
- Heartbeat irregularities, which means your heart beats too fast, too slow, or in an odd rhythm.
Back to top