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What Does Heart Failure Mean

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What You Can Do

Heart failure – what does it mean?

Although some risk factors of heart failure, like age, cant be modified, people with CHF can take actions to improve their long-term prognosis. The first step is to become familiar with any family history of heart disease and learn about all the possible symptoms. Don’t ignore suspicious symptoms: let your doctor know about them. Regular exercise and managing concurrent conditions can also help keep CHF under control.

What Are The Complications Of Heart Failure

Untreated heart failure can eventually lead to congestive heart failure , a condition in which blood builds up in other areas of your body. In this potentially life threatening condition, you may experience fluid retention in your limbs as well as in your organs, such as the liver and lungs.

Additional complications of heart failure can include:

  • stroke
  • arrhythmias, like atrial fibrillation

What Can Be Done To Prevent Pediatric Congenital Heart Defects

In most cases, there is no way to prevent heart defects. However, certain precautions can be taken:

  • A pregnant woman should not drink alcohol or take drugs that have not been prescribed to her.
  • Women with certain chronic conditions should ask their doctors for advice on medications or special diets before they become pregnant.
  • A woman who is able to become pregnant should get 400 micrograms of folate or folic acid per day to prevent birth defects.

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Diagnostic Tests And Procedures

This animation discusses some of the tests used to diagnose heart failure. These tests may include an electrocardiogram to look at your hearts electrical activity, an echocardiogram to measure how well your heart is working and look at the structure, and a chest X-ray to see if your heart is enlarged or there is fluid in your lungs. Other tests may include blood tests and an exercise, or stress test. .

Blood tests

Your doctor may order blood tests to check the levels of certain molecules, such as brain natriuretic peptide . These levels rise during heart failure. Blood tests can also show how well your liver and your kidneys are working.

Tests to measure your ejection fraction

Your doctor may order an echocardiography or other imaging tests to measure your ejection fraction. Your ejection fraction is the percent of the blood in the lower left chamber of your heart that is pumped out of your heart with each heartbeat. Ejection fraction tells your doctor how well your heart pumps. This helps your doctor diagnose the type of heart failure you have and guide your treatment.

  • If 40% or less of the blood in your left ventricle is pumped out in one beat, you have heart failure with reduced ejection fraction.
  • If 50% or more of the blood in your left ventricle is pumped out in one beat, you have heart failure with preserved ejection fraction.

If your ejection fraction is somewhere in between , you may be diagnosed with heart failure with borderline ejection fraction.

Other tests

Weight Loss Diabetes And Obesity

Enlarged Heart (Cardiomegaly) and Heart Failure

A 2018 study published in the Canadian Journal of Diabetes suggests that a sustained weight loss of more than 5% of body weight will lead to an improvement in glycemic control and cardiovascular risk factors. By employing healthy lifestyle choices such as exercise, eating a better diet, and other behavior interventions, both weight loss and lowering hemoglobin A1C can be reached.

Medication to manage weight may improve glycemic and metabolic control in both people with diabetes and obese patients, and, when deemed appropriate, bariatric surgery may be an option for obese and diabetic patients.

Before you begin any sort of weight-loss program, consult with your cardiologist and diabetes management team first.

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What Are The Types Of Cardiomyopathy

The most common types of cardiomyopathy are:

Some cardiomyopathies dont fit into these general categories. These conditions include:

Other Causes Of Heart Failure

Pulmonary hypertension and heart failure

Heart failure can be caused by pulmonary hypertension . This condition can damage the right side of your heart, leading to heart failure. In some cases, the pulmonary hypertension itself is caused by an existing heart condition.


Amyloidosis happens when abnormal proteins, called amyloid, build up in organs and tissues. This affects how your organs work. If amyloidosis affects the heart it’s called cardiac amyloidosis or stiff heart syndrome and can lead to heart failure.

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Articles On Heart Failure Types & Stages

The name of this condition can be a little confusing. When you have heart failure, it doesn’t mean your ticker stopped beating. What’s really going on is that your heart can’t pump blood as well as a healthy one.

The chambers of your heart may respond by stretching to carry more blood to pump through your body. They may become stiffer and thicker. This helps keep blood moving for a while, but in time, your heart muscle walls may get weaker.

Your kidneys react by causing your body to hold on to water and salt. Fluid may start to build up in your arms, legs, ankles, feet, lungs, or other organs.

The American Heart Association and American College of Cardiology have defined four stages of heart failure to help people understand how the condition changes over time and the kinds of treatments that are used for each.

What You Need To Know

What Does Heart Failure Mean?
  • Cardiomyopathy, a name for any disease of the heart muscle, is one condition that often leads to heart failure.
  • Symptoms of heart failure include shortness of breath, swelling in the legs and feet, and abdominal pain or nausea.
  • Diagnosis includes tests for the existence of heart failure, followed by tests to evaluate the cause of the heart failure.
  • Treatment for heart failure begins with lifestyle changes and medications. In more advanced cases, surgery may be needed.
  • People can and do live with heart failure. Close self-monitoring and sticking to the doctors recommended diet, medication and exercise plans are essential to improving quality of life.

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What Are Heart Failure Stages Or Classifications

While doctors define heart failure in stages or classifications, it represents a progression of heart muscle weakness. Sometimes people refer to this process as chronic heart failure but technically that term isn’t correct.

The New York Heart Association puts the stages of heart failure into four classifications:

  • Class I: no limitations in activity. Normal activities can be performed.
  • Class II: mild limitations and mild symptoms with activity no symptoms at rest
  • Class III: noticeable limitations in activity only comfortable at rest
  • Class IV: symptoms occur at any level of activity and uncomfortable even resting

The American Heart Association along with the American College of Cardiology grades heart failure in four stages, and takes into account that heart failure can be present even before symptoms appear:

  • Stage A: No heart failure, but at high risk due to another medical condition that can lead to heart failure, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, or coronary artery disease.
  • Stage B: The heart has been damaged by the patient’s other medical condition or other factors, but no symptoms are present yet.
  • Stage C: The heart is damaged and the patient is experiencing heart failure symptoms.
  • Stage D: The patient has severe heart failure that requires specialized care, despite receiving treatment .

Symptoms Of Chronic Heart Failure

The symptoms of chronic heart failure generally depend on the type of the condition being experienced and its location, i.e. which ventricle is involved.

The main symptom of left-sided chronic heart failure is shortness of breath, which will generally become worse with activity or when lying flat. A cough may also present. If the condition is affecting the right-side of the heart, edema, a buildup of fluid causing swelling of the legs and ankles, is the most commonly experienced symptom.

Other symptoms, which may present regardless of which side of the heart is affected, may include:

  • Tiredness
  • Weakness, commonly of the legs
  • Rapid heart rate, even when resting, or an irregular heartbeat
  • Chest pain or angina

Doctors generally classify a personâs heart failure according to the severity of the symptoms being experienced. The New York Heart Association Functional Classification system is the commonly used grading system. People are sorted into four categories:

  • I: Physical activity is not limited by symptoms.
  • II: Physical activity is slightly limited. Rest is comfortable.
  • III Physical activity is markedly limited. Rest is comfortable.
  • IV: Unable to carry out physical activity without discomfort. Symptoms are present while resting.

People experiencing possible symptoms of chronic heart failure should consult a doctor. In addition, the free Ada app can be used to carry out a symptom assessment.

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How Is Congestive Heart Failure Treated

We assess the current health status of the patient to establish a baseline and develop a long-term health plan with the goal of improving the patients health, says Dr. Jacoby. This may involve the optimization of medicines and therapies, adding new medication or maybe enrollment in one of the clinical trials going on here.

Theres no quick fix, he says. Stabilizing and/or reversing a patients condition often involves long-term collaborative follow-up with a referring cardiologist or physician, Dr. Jacoby says.

In worst-case scenarios, we may offer advanced therapies, which include mechanical solutions, a heart transplant or hospice, Dr. Jacoby says. But first, we work very closely with our partners in cardiology and Interventional Cardiology Program at Yale to see if the patient would benefit from any interventional strategies.

“Yale has the best program in the area for heart transplants and artificial parts, but we want to exhaust all other options to avoid either if we can.

Symptoms Of Heart Failure

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The most common symptoms of HF include:

  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Chronic coughing and/or wheezing
  • Swelling, especially of the feet, ankles and legs
  • Nausea
  • Confusion or disorientation
  • Unexplained weight gain

If someone is experiencing more than one of these symptoms, it is crucial to make a doctors appointment for evaluation. Tracking symptoms is also important for helping those who have already been diagnosed manage their condition, which can significantly impact their overall quality of life.

Heart failure symptoms in elderly individuals are often confused with normal age-related changes and may be difficult to differentiate from symptoms of other health conditions. Fatigue and shortness of breath are commonly the first indicators of early HF. However, research suggests that atypical symptoms, such as confusion, memory deficit, sleepiness, episodes of delirium, irritability, syncopal states , fatigue, anorexia, and reduced level of activity, gradually become common manifestations of HF in the elderly, especially after age 80.

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Get Support And Know Your Options

Living with heart failure may cause fear, anxiety, depression, and stress. Talk to your healthcare team or a professional counselor. They can help you find or learn ways to cope.

  • Get treatment for depression. If you are depressed, your doctor may recommend medicines or other treatments that can improve your quality of life.
  • Join a patient support group. You can learn how other people who have similar symptoms have coped with them. Your doctor may be able to help you find local support groups, or you can check with an area medical center.
  • Seek support from family and friends. Letting your loved ones know how you feel and what they can do to help can help lower your stress and anxiety.
  • Know your treatment options. If your heart failure is very serious, palliative or hospice care can improve your quality of life and help make your daily life more comfortable. This type of care focuses on managing your symptoms, helping you avoid unnecessary tests or treatments, and providing support to your loved ones.

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:

Sometimes anaemia, drinking too much alcohol, an overactive thyroid or high pressure in the lungs can also lead to heart failure.

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Should I Still Call 999 Or Go To Hospital If I’m Worried About My Health

Whether or not you have coronavirus symptoms, it’s essential to dial 999 if you have symptoms that could be a heart attack, or if your heart symptoms get worse.

Dont delay because you think hospitals are too busy the NHS still has systems in place to treat people who need urgent heart treatment. If you delay, you are more likely to suffer serious heart damage and more likely to need intensive care and to spend longer in hospital.

You should dial 999 if you have possible heart attack symptoms or if you are having severe difficulty breathing, such as gasping for breath, choking, lips turning blue, or not being able to get words out. If you feel like youre struggling to manage your condition at home, contact your doctor or NHS 111.

How Do They Remove Fluid From Congestive Heart Failure

If Im hospitalized for heart failure what does that mean? #HowWeFight

The current in-hospital treatment for CHF involves removal of excess fluid with diuretic medication and/or ultrafiltration in which a machine bypasses the kidneys and filters water and salt from the body. However, these treatments can have unwanted side effects such as low blood pressure and worsening kidney function.

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When To Get Medical Advice

See a GP if you experience persistent or gradually worsening symptoms of heart failure.

Call 999 for an ambulance or go to your nearest A& E department as soon as possible if you have sudden or very severe symptoms.

A number of tests can be used to help check how well your heart is working, including blood tests, an ECG and an echocardiogram.

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.

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Tips For Managing Congestive Heart Failure End

You may be asking, How can I provide comfort to my loved one as they experience the end-of-life signs of congestive heart failure? Its only natural that you as a loved one and/or caregiver will want to be as helpful as possible, and ensure that your loved one is experiencing as little pain as possible. Heres some ways you can help:

  • Communicate with the doctors and healthcare professionals: Your loved one may be too weak, or simply forget, to communicate their symptoms to the doctors and nurses. You can help by sharing this information with them in order to make sure your loved one gets what they need.
  • Provide comfort: Sometimes it is just as simple as spending time with your loved one while watching a TV show, or talking about things they love. These conversations can help in alleviating some of their depression and anxiety.
  • Help them remember to take their medicine: There will likely be various pills and medications that your loved one needs to take. You can help by assisting your loved one in staying on schedule.

Types Of Chronic Heart Failure

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The condition affects the lower chambers of the heart, known as the right and left ventricles. The left ventricle pumps blood around the body, supplying it with oxygen. Chronic heart failure occurs when the heart cannot adapt to the bodyâs changing need for oxygen, for example when exercising or climbing the stairs.

There are different types of chronic heart failure, classified according to how the heart reacts when it pumps. The two main types are:

  • Heart failure with reduced ejection fraction: Also called systolic heart failure or HFrEF, this type occurs when the heart is too weak and doesnât squeeze normally.
  • Heart failure with preserved ejection fraction: Also called diastolic heart failure or HFpEF, this type occurs when the heart is too stiff and doesnât fill with blood normally.

It is also possible to be affected by a combination of these two types. Moreover, each type of chronic heart failure can affect the left ventricle, right ventricle or both simultaneously.

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What Makes Yale Medicines Approach To Treating Congestive Heart Failure Unique

We have a very patient-focused team at Yale Medicine, says Dr. Jacoby. Every person seen here, we treat as an individual, rather than offering a simple cookie-cutter treatment plan.

Yale Medicines multidisciplinary team comprises of heart failure cardiologists and cardiac surgeons, dedicated advanced-practice, registered nurses and nurse coordinators, dietitians, exercise physiologists, financial counselors, immunologists specializing in transplants, psychologists, and specialists in palliative care.

In our multidisciplinary approach, we include the patients desires as well as input from the family, Dr. Jacoby says. We develop a plan for social work support and take into account all of their financial and emotional stresses in addition to their physical treatment needs.

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