How Is Heart Failure Diagnosed
Your doctor will ask you many questions about your symptoms and medical history. Youâll be asked about any conditions you have that may cause heart failure . Youâll be asked if you smoke, take drugs, drink alcohol , and about what drugs you take.
Youâll also get a complete physical exam. Your doctor will listen to your heart and look for signs of heart failure as well as other illnesses that may have caused your heart muscle to weaken or stiffen.
Your doctor may also order other tests to determine the cause and severity of your heart failure. These include:
Other tests may be ordered, depending on your condition.
How Common Are These Procedures How Often Are These Procedures Performed
Heart transplants overall are uncommon. In 2020, there were just under 8,200 transplants worldwide. The overwhelming majority of those were in the United States. Other countries with the highest numbers of transplants were Germany, France and Spain.
Heart transplants are uncommon for two reasons:
- Donor heart shortage. Transplanting a heart requires a donor, and donors are in short supply. Part of the reason it’s hard to find a donor is because the donor and recipient must be a “match.” Without this matching, the recipient’s immune system is more likely to reject the donor’s heart.
- Transplant complexity. Heart transplants are very complicated surgeries, and there are fewer than 150 hospitals in the U.S. that perform them.
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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Heart Failuresigns And Symptoms
Heart failure is a condition in which the heart fails to function properly. The terms “heart failure” and “congestive heart failure ” don’t mean that the heart has actually “failed” or stopped but mean one or more chambers of the heart “fail” to keep up with the volume of blood flowing through them.
Heart failure is brought on by a variety of underlying diseases and health problems.
Your condition may involve the left side, the right side or both sides of the heart. Each side has two chambers:
- An atrium or upper chamber
- A ventricle or lower chamber
Any one of these four chambers may not be able to keep up with the volume of blood flowing through it.
Two types of heart dysfunction can lead to heart failure, including:
- Systolic Heart Failure This is the most common cause of heart failure and occurs when the heart is weak and enlarged. The muscle of the left ventricle loses some of its ability to contract or shorten. In turn, it may not have the muscle power to pump the amount of oxygenated and nutrient-filled blood the body needs.
- Diastolic Failure The muscle becomes stiff and loses some of its ability to relax. As a result, the affected chamber has trouble filling with blood during the rest period that occurs between each heartbeat. Often the walls of the heart thicken, and the size of the left chamber may be normal or reduced.
What Causes Heart Failure
Although the risk of heart failure doesnt change as you get older, youre more likely to have heart failure when youre older.
Many medical conditions that damage the heart muscle can cause heart failure. Common conditions include:
- Tobacco and recreational drug use.
- Medications. Some drugs used to fight cancer can lead to heart failure.
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What Happens Before This Procedure
Because there are far more people who need hearts than donors, there’s a strict selection process that you have to undergo to receive a heart transplant. The goal of this process is to select recipients who have the best chance of long-term survival based on their overall health.
After a healthcare provider refers you to a transplant program, youll undergo the following.
To ensure that donor hearts go to people with the best chance of survival, healthcare providers will evaluate your overall health by running several different tests. Some, but not all, of the possible tests are listed below.
Lab tests will include tests on your blood, urine and other screenings. These tests will look for the following:
- Blood composition. This analyzes your bloods levels of red blood cells, platelets, and more. These tests will also analyze your blood chemistry, looking for signs of other conditions that might affect your ability to undergo a heart transplant.
- Immune system analysis. These tests help providers anticipate how well your immune system can tolerate a donor organ.
- Kidney function. These tests analyze your urine to see how well your kidneys are working.
- Tests for alcohol, tobacco and drugs. These are often important tests if you have a history of using recreational drugs or drinking too much alcohol. Most transplant centers require that youre sober and avoid using tobacco products and recreational drugs for an extended time before your transplant.
How Does Heart Failure Affect The Quality Of Life And Lifestyle
With the right care and treatment plan, many adults still enjoy life even though heart failure limits their activities. How well you feel depends on:
- How well your heart muscle is working.
- Your symptoms.
- How well you respond to your treatment plan.
- How well you follow your treatment plan.
This includes caring for yourself by:
- Taking your medications.
- Tracking and reporting new or worsening symptoms to your provider.
- Keeping regular follow-up appointments with your healthcare provider.
Because heart failure is a chronic, long-term illness, talk to your doctor and your family about your preferences for medical care. You can complete an advance directive or living will to let everyone involved in your care know what you want. A living will details the treatments you do or dont want to prolong your life. Its a good idea to prepare a living will while you are well in case you arent able to make these decisions at a later time.
A note from Cleveland Clinic
If you have heart failure, you can take steps to improve your heart health. Take your medications as instructed, follow a low-sodium diet, stay active or become physically active, take notice of sudden changes in your weight, live a healthy lifestyle, keep your follow-up appointments and track your symptoms. Talk to your healthcare provider about questions or concerns you have about your medications, lifestyle changes or any other part of your treatment plan.
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What Happens After This Procedure
After your heart transplant, the following will need to happen.
Immune system suppression
After the procedure, providers will start you on medications that will suppress your immune system. They do that because your immune systems normal reaction to a foreign object is to treat it like an infection or other harmful invader and attack it. That suppression protects the new heart from attack by your own immune system.
Providers will continue to monitor your condition and vital signs closely. They do that to watch for any signs that your body is rejecting the new heart . Youll also need to take those medications for the rest of your life.
Nervous system reconnection
Providers will also monitor the new heart’s electrical function. That’s necessary because the donor’s heart doesn’t connect to your nervous system. Fortunately, your heart can still manage how fast it beats in other ways. Your resting heart rate will usually stay at the high end of normal or slightly higher .
In many people, the heart recipient’s nervous system can form new connections with the donor’s heart. The sympathetic nervous system connections, which control your fight-or-flight response and speed up your heart, form after about six months. The parasympathetic nervous system connections, which help your heart slow down and relax, form after about 18 months to two years. In some cases, this reconnection doesnt happen, but this isnt usually the case.
What Are The Symptoms
Some are easy to confuse with normal aging or other diseases. The more advanced your heart failure, the more likely you are to have many symptoms, or the changes that youâve noticed in yourself will worsen.
These are common ways that heart failure can affect you:
Shortness of breath. Heart failure can make it hard to breathe when you walk up a flight of stairs. With advanced heart failure, you may get winded in a shorter period of time, or you may have trouble even when youâre sitting still.
Sleep problems. Heart failure can make it hard to breathe or catch your breath when you lie in bed. You may have trouble nodding off to sleep, or you might wake up in the middle of the night gasping for air. Try sleeping while propped up on two or more pillows instead of lying flat. Advanced heart failure makes it even more likely youâll have trouble breathing when youâre at rest. That means your bedtime problems will probably get worse, too.
Coughing. You may already have a dry cough that acts up when youâre lying in bed. You might cough often during the day, and your phlegm could have a slight pink tint to it. That means thereâs a bit of blood in the gunk youâre coughing up. Advanced heart failure can make that cough worse, especially when youâre lying down.
Fatigue. Heart failure can make you feel worn out. Things that wouldnât have tired you out in the past suddenly do. Youâre more likely to feel tired all of the time with advanced heart failure.
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What Are The Four Stages Of Congestive Heart Failure
The New York Heart Association developed the four stages of congestive heart failure depending on the functional capabilities of the heart.
- Class I: Patients will have no problem while performing physical activity.
- Class II: Patients will have minor limitations of physical capacity due to a marked increase in physical activity. This leads to weakness, increased heart rate, difficulty breathing, and chest pain, but they may be comfortable at rest.
- Class III: Patients with marked limitation of physical activity in which minimal ordinary activity results in weakness, increased heart rate, difficulty breathing, and chest pain however they are comfortable at rest.
- Class IV: Patients cannot carry on any physical activity without discomfort and have symptoms of heart failure or chest pain, even at rest.
Heart Failure Treatment Is A Team Effort
Heart failure management is a team effort, and you are the key player on the team. Your heart doctor will prescribe your medications and manage other medical problems. Other team members — including nurses, dietitians, pharmacists, exercise specialists, and social workers — will help you achieve success. But it is up to YOU to take your medications, make dietary changes, live a healthy lifestyle, keep your follow-up appointments, and be an active member of the team.
If you notice anything unusual, don’t wait until your next appointment to discuss it with your doctor. Call them right away if you have:
- Unexplained weight gain
- Swelling in your ankles, feet, legs, or belly that gets worse
- Shortness of breath that gets worse or happens more often, especially if you wake up feeling that way
- Bloating with a loss of appetite or nausea
- Extreme fatigue or more trouble finishing your daily activities
- A lung infection or a cough that gets worse
- Fast heart rate
- New irregular heartbeat
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What Is Congestive Heart Failure
Congestive heart failure is a progressive condition in which the heart gradually becomes weaker and less capable of pumping blood. The word congestive refers to the fluid that builds up around the heart and in the lungs as a consequence of the weakening heart.
Early stages of heart failure can be treated through medication and lifestyle changes. However, if the condition is not diagnosed and treated early, it will progress to a stage that cannot be treated due to irreversible damage being inflicted on the heart.
Untreated high blood pressure and congenital heart valve defects can cause heart failure. It also links to high LDL cholesterol levels, diabetes, obesity, thyroid disease, certain kinds of infections, and severe allergic reactions.
Melody R Conklin Vmd Mba
Dr. Melody R. Conklin is originally from Youngsville in northwestern Pennsylvania and earned her BS at The Pennsylvania State University, University Park in 2003, where she majored in Animal BioScience and minored in Wildlife and Fisheries Science. She then attended the University of Pennsylvania, earning her VMD in 2007. Dr. Conklin worked in companion animal general practice until 2015 when she joined Zoetis Veterinary Medical Information and Product Support department while finishing her MBA at Penn State Great Valley in 2017. Dr. Conklin currently works full-time in a companion animal practice while working with Zoetis US Petcare Medical Affairs in a consultant role. She lives in Sinking Spring, PA with her 4 cats, Vegeta, Fluffzor, Poof, & Butter, and 3 guinea pigs, Pascha, Elena, & Caroline.
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Causes Of Heart Failure
Heart failure is often the result of a number of problems affecting the heart at the same time.
Conditions that can lead to heart failure include:
- coronary heart disease where the arteries that supply blood to the heart become clogged up with fatty substances , which may cause angina or a heart attack
- high blood pressure this can put extra strain on the heart, which over time can lead to heart failure
- conditions affecting the heart muscle
- heart rhythm problems , such as atrial fibrillation
- damage or other problems with the heart valves
- congenital heart disease birth defects that affect the normal workings of the heart
What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Congestive Heart Failure
- Difficulty breathing may occur when a patient is at rest, during an activity, while lying flat, or even while waking up.
- Chest pain is another common symptom seen in patients with congestive heart failure.
- Due to water retention in the kidneys, patients will have a fluid overload in ankles, feet, stomach, and lungs, which is another key symptom seen in heart failure patients.
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Heart Failure Signs And Symptoms
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.
This table lists the most common signs and symptoms, explains why they occur and describes how to recognize them.
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.
- Your symptoms.
- 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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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 Are The Symptoms Of Pediatric Congenital Heart Disease
Often, there are no symptoms associated with these defects. The defects are usually found during routine physical examinations. In cases where there are symptoms, they may include:
- Trouble breathing.
- Bluish tones to the skin .
- Poor eating habits.
- Swelling in the abdomen or around the eyes.
- Rapid heartbeat.
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