Outlook For Heart Failure
Heart failure is a serious long-term condition that will usually continue to get slowly worse over time.
It can severely limit the activities you’re able to do and is often eventually fatal.
But it’s very difficult to tell how the condition will progress on an individual basis.
It’s very unpredictable. Lots of people remain stable for many years, while in some cases it may get worse quickly.
Symptoms Of Heart Failure
The main symptoms of heart failure are:
- breathlessness after activity or at rest
- feeling tired most of the time and finding exercise exhausting
- feeling lightheaded or fainting
- swollen ankles and legs
Some people also experience other symptoms, such as a persistent cough, a fast heart rate and dizziness.
Symptoms can develop quickly or gradually over weeks or months .
Treatments For Heart Failure
Treatment for heart failure usually aims to control the symptoms for as long as possible and slow down the progression of the condition.
How you’re treated will depend on what is causing your heart failure.
Common treatments include:
- lifestyle changes including eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly and stopping smoking
- medicine a range of medicines can help many people need to take 2 or 3 different types
- devices implanted in your chest these can help control your heart rhythm
- surgery such as a or a heart transplant
Treatment will usually be needed for life.
A cure may be possible when heart failure has a treatable cause. For example, if your heart valves are damaged, replacing or repairing them may cure the condition.
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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.
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What Is Congestive Heart Failure Symptoms Causes Diagnosis Treatment And Prevention
Heart failure is a condition in which the heart doesnt pump blood as well as it should.
While the term heart failure may sound like the heart has stopped working, that isnt actually the case. It still pumps, just inefficiently.
As a result, theres a reduction in blood flow to the body and a backup of fluid into the lungs, liver, abdomen, and lower extremities.
While theres no cure for heart failure, medication and healthy lifestyle changes can help manage the condition and allow people to maintain a good quality of life.
When Should I Get Emergency Care
Go to the ER or call 911 if you have:
- New, unexplained, and severe chest pain that comes with shortness of breath, sweating, nausea, or weakness
- Fast heart rate , especially if you are short of breath
- Shortness of breath that doesn’t get better if you rest
- Sudden weakness, or you can’t move your arms or legs
- Sudden, severe headache
- Fainting spells
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What Is Ejection Fraction
The ejection fraction is a measurement your doctor will use to determine the type of heart failure and to assess the stage of heart disease.
The ejection fraction represents the percentage of blood pumped out of the left ventricle when the heart contracts. When blood leaves the left ventricle, it moves into the aorta to deliver blood loaded with oxygen to the rest of the body.
In a healthy heart, the ejection fraction ranges from around 52%74%. When the ejection fraction drops below 52%, its considered low. Your healthcare professional may use your ejection fraction to determine the severity of heart failure.
Center For Advanced Heart Failure/cardiomyopathy At Brigham And Womens Hospital
The Center for Advanced Heart Failure/Cardiomyopathy, an integral part of the Heart & Vascular Center at Brigham and Womens Hospital , brings together heart failure experts, including cardiologists, interventional cardiologists, cardiac surgeons, cardiovascular imaging specialists, congenital heart disease specialists, and many others, to care for patients as one team. Together, the team tailors therapies to each patients needs, offering the latest medical, interventional, and surgical approaches to congestive heart failure treatment.
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What Is The Importance Of Ejection Fraction
Your ejection fraction is one way to measure the severity of your condition. If its below normal, it can mean that you have heart failure. Your ejection fraction tells your healthcare provider how good of a job your left or right ventricle is doing at pumping blood. Usually, your EF number is talking about how much blood your left ventricle is pumping out because its your heart’s main pumping chamber.
Several non-invasive tests can measure your EF. With this information, your healthcare provider can decide how to treat you or find out if a treatment is working as it should.
A normal left ventricular ejection fraction is 53% to 70%. An LVEF of 65%, for example, means that 65% of the total amount of blood in your left ventricle is pumped out with each heartbeat. Your EF can go up and down, based on your heart condition and how well your treatment works.
History And Physical Exam
A clinician listens to your heart and lungs and measures your blood pressure and weight. They will also ask about your:
- Familys medical history, especially previous cardiac problems
- Medications, including prescriptions, over-the-counter drugs and supplements
- Personal medical history
Blood tests can measure several things related to heart failure:
- Sodium and potassium levels
- Creatinine, which helps measure how well your kidneys are working
- B-type natriuretic peptide , a hormone released from the ventricles in response to increased wall tension that occurs with heart failure
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Prognosis At Different Ages
In general, younger people diagnosed with CHF tend to have a better outlook than older people.
A report averaging several smaller studies found that people under age 65 generally had a 5-year survival rate of 78.8 percent following CHF diagnosis. The same report found that people over age 75 had an average 5-year survival rate of 49.5 percent following diagnosis.
Older people diagnosed with CHF may already have other chronic health conditions. This can make it difficult to manage CHF and create a more challenging outlook for them.
for congestive heart failure. The treatment thats best for you will depend on:
- your overall health
- any other health conditions you have
- how you respond to any medications
- what stage of CHF you have
Common options include:
There are lifestyle changes a person with CHF can make that have been shown to help slow the conditions progression. Talk with your doctor before making changes to your diet or starting an exercise routine.
Prevention Of Congestive Heart Failure
The best way to prevent heart failure is to control your risk factors. The good news is that you can reduce or eliminate many of the risk factors that lead to heart disease, such as high blood pressure. Lifestyle changes and adhering to any medication your doctor prescribes can go a long way in preventing heart failure.
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Edema And Heart Failure
Edema is swelling that is caused by excess fluid trapped in the bodys tissue.
The condition often occurs as the result of congestive heart failure. It can also be the result of medication, pregnancy, or another underlying condition, such as kidney disease or cirrhosis of the liver.
Signs that you have edema include:
- Swelling or puffiness of the tissue directly under the skin, especially in the legs or arms
- Arms or legs start to feel full or heavy
- Shiny or stretched skin
- Skin that retains pits, or dimples, after being pressed for several seconds
- Clothing or jewelry starts to feel tight and uncomfortable
- Skin near the swelling feels tight or warm
- It becomes more difficult to move the joints that are affected
- Increased abdominal size
Treatment And Medication Options For Congestive Heart Failure
Heart failure is a chronic condition, and there is no cure. However, once youve been diagnosed, there are several things you can do to treat the condition and manage it so that it does not progress. Chief among them are lifestyle changes. That includes exercising and maintaining a heart-healthy diet thats low in saturated fat, trans fats, and cholesterol.
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Complications Of Congestive Heart Failure
- Rapid Weight Loss Severe heart failure can lead to a rapid loss of weight that can be life-threatening. Heart failure can cause blood to back up into the liver and intestines, causing these organs to swell. This swelling can lead to nausea and loss of appetite, and can prevent the body from absorbing nutrients from food.
- Impaired Kidney Function Congestive heart failure weakens the hearts ability to pump blood, reducing blood flow to the kidneys. This can lead to kidney damage or kidney failure, if left untreated.
- Liver Damage Heart failure can cause fluid to build up in the liver, which can lead to scarring. This makes it more difficult for the liver to carry out its day-to-day functions.
- Arrhythmias Heart failure results in damaged heart muscles, which can lead to the development of an arrhythmia, or abnormal heart beat. Arrhythmias can include the heart beating too quickly, beating too slowly, or beating irregularly.
- Heart Valve Problems If the heart is enlarged due to heart failure, the valves of the heart, which ensure appropriate direction of blood flow through the organ, may not function properly.
- Angina and Heart Attack Heart disease is a major contributing factor in many heart failure cases, and people with congestive heart failure are at continued risk of angina and heart attack.
Prognosis By Ejection Fraction
Ejection fraction is a measure of how much blood is pumped out of your heart each time it contracts. A healthy heart has an EF of between about 55 percent to 75 percent.
Some people with CHF have a reduced EF. This means their heart is pumping less blood out to the rest of their body than a healthy heart. Studies have shown that people who have CHF and a reduced EF have a more challenging outlook than people with CHF who do not have a reduced EF.
The exact survival rates varied among studies, but have shown that EF has an impact on prognosis. Your doctor will have the best information about how your ejection fraction can affect your prognosis.
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How Is Congestive Heart Failure Diagnosed
Patients will typically have an intake visit with a heart specialist and nurse or physicians assistant. During this visit, the doctor will review the patients prior records and his or her current health status. This allows the doctor to establish a picture of where the patient is along the spectrum, and make a plan for prognosis and treatment.
The process often takes more than one meeting and involves both the patients local cardiologist or referring physician.
What Are The Symptoms Of Heart Failure
You may not have any symptoms of heart failure, or the symptoms may be mild to severe. Symptoms can be constant or can come and go. The symptoms can include:
- Congested lungs. Fluid backup in the lungs can cause shortness of breath with exercise or difficulty breathing at rest or when lying flat in bed. Lung congestion can also cause a dry, hacking cough or wheezing.
- Fluid and water retention. Less blood to your kidneys causes fluid and water retention, resulting in swollen ankles, legs, abdomen , and weight gain. Symptoms may cause an increased need to urinate during the night. Bloating in your stomach may cause a loss of appetite or nausea.
- Dizziness, fatigue, and weakness. Less blood to your major organs and muscles makes you feel tired and weak. Less blood to the brain can cause dizziness or confusion.
- Rapid or irregular heartbeats. The heart beats faster to pump enough blood to the body. This can cause a rapid or irregular heartbeat.
If you have heart failure, you may have one or all of these symptoms or you may have none of them. They may or may not indicate a weakened heart.
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Surgery For Heart Failure
Your doctor may recommend surgery to implant a medical device that helps the heart function more effectively:
- Pacemaker, which maintains a steady heart beat in people with a slow or irregular heartbeat
- Implantable cardioverter defibrillator , which monitors the heart for fast rhythm and delivers an electrical shock to reset normal rhythm
- Left ventricular assist device , which takes over the pumping action of the heart
People with advanced heart failure may be candidates for heart transplantation. A heart transplant replaces the diseased heart with a donated heart from a person who has died.
What Is The Prognosis For Children With Congenital Heart Defects
The prognosis depends on the defect. In many cases, children with congenital heart defects go on to live normal lives. In most cases, people with heart defects are at greater risk for developing infection of the heart and valves. They may need to take antibiotics when having certain dental or surgical procedures in order to prevent endocarditis, an infection of the hearts lining.
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Reduce The Salt In Your Diet
Enjoying what you eat is important. Even if you crave salt you can learn to like foods that are lower in salt. Your taste buds will change soon, and you will not miss the salt. Removing salt can bring out flavors that may have been hidden by the salt.
Reduce the salt content in your diet by trying the following suggestions:
- Choose plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables. They contain only small amounts of salt.
- Choose foods that are low in salt, such as fresh meats, poultry, fish, dry and fresh legumes, eggs, milk and yogurt. Plain rice, pasta and oatmeal are good low-sodium choices. However, the sodium content can increase if salt or other high-sodium ingredients are added during their preparation.
- Season with herbs, spices, herbed vinegar and fruit juices. Avoid herb or spice mixtures that contain salt or sodium. Use lemon juice or fresh ground pepper to accent natural flavors. Try orange or pineapple juice as a base for meat marinades. See “Salt-Free Herb Blends,” below, for other ideas.
- Read food labels before you buy packaged foods. Check the nutrition facts on the label for sodium content per serving. Find out the number of servings in the package. How does the sodium in each serving compare to the total sodium you can eat each day? Try to pick packaged foods with a sodium content less than 350 milligrams for each serving. It is also useful to check the list of ingredients. If salt or sodium is listed in the first five ingredients, it is too high in sodium.
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.
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Types Of Congestive Heart Failure
Congestive heart failure is grouped into left-sided, right-sided, diastolic, and systolic. Left-sided occurs when fluids accumulate in the lungs, causing difficulty in breathing . Right-sided happens when a fluid fills up in the abdomen and foot, leading to edema. Systolic occurs when the ventricle fails to contract as needed, showing an issue with the pumping system. Finally, diastolic heart occurs when the ventricle fails to relax as needed, indicating a filling issue. The types of heart failure indicate where the problem is in the heart.
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.
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