What is a Congestive Heart Failure?
When the heart muscle is weak and unable to pump blood efficiently and cannot keep up with body’s demands, it causes fluid build up in the ankles, feet, arms, lungs or other organs. The most common cause of heart failure is coronary artery diease. Other causes are diabetes, high blood pressure, or kidney disease.
Risk factors for coronary artery disease is high levels of cholesterol in the blood stream, obesity, sedentary life style, smoking and/or stress.
Heart failure is a serious condition and can progressively gets worse with time. There are several treatments available now which can slow down or stop gradual worsening of the disease. There are several stages of heart failure.
Four stages of 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.
What are congestive heart failure symptoms?
Congestive heart failure symptoms include:
- Shortness of breath.
- Waking up short of breath at night.
- Chest pain.
- Heart palpitations.
- Fatigue when you’re active.
- Swelling in your ankles, legs and abdomen.
- Weight gain.
- Need to urinate while resting at night.
- A dry, hacking cough.
- A full (bloated) or hard stomach.
- Loss of appetite or upset stomach (nausea).
How to lower the risk of congestive heart failure?
Although you can’t change some risk factors like age, family history or race, you can change your lifestyle to give yourself the best chance of preventing heart failure. Things you can do include:
- Staying at a weight that’s healthy for you.
- Eating foods that are good for your heart.
- Exercising regularly.
- Managing your stress.
- Stopping the use of tobacco products.
- Not drinking alcohol.
- Not using recreational drugs.
- Taking care of other medical conditions you have that can increase your risk.
Below are some of the diagnostic methods for congestive heart failure your physician might order.
- Electrocardiogram: To assess heart rate and rhythm.
- Chest X-ray: To determine heart size and presence or absence of ﬂuid in the heart.
- Blood tests: To know the risk factors that may cause congestive heart failure.
- Kidney function test: To determine water overload due to congestive heart failure.
- BNP: B-type natriuretic peptide, a chemical released by the heart muscle when the heart muscle is overloaded; this diagnostic test conﬁrms congestive heart failure.
- Echocardiogram: To assess the function of the heart. Exercise tests or stress tests often involve walking on a treadmill or riding a stationary bike while the heart is monitored. Exercise tests can show how the heart responds to physical activity. If you can’t exercise, you might be given medicines.
- CT scan of the heart. Also called a cardiac CT scan, this test uses X-rays to create cross-sectional images of the heart.
- Heart MRI scan, also called a cardiac MRI. This test uses magnetic fields and radio waves to create detailed images of the heart.
- Coronary angiogram. This test helps spot blockages in the heart arteries. The health care provider inserts a long, thin flexible tube called a catheter into a blood vessel, usually in the groin or wrist. It’s then guided to the heart. Dye flows through the catheter to arteries in the heart. The dye helps the arteries show up more clearly on X-ray images and video.
- Myocardial biopsy. In this test, a health care provider removes very small pieces of the heart muscle for examination. This test may be done to diagnose certain types of heart muscle diseases.
Medications that Can Be Used to Treat Heart Disease
A combination of medicines may be used to treat heart failure. The specific medicines used depend on the cause of heart failure and the symptoms. Some of the common Medicines to treat heart failure include:
- Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors. These drugs relax blood vessels to lower blood pressure, improve blood flow and decrease the strain on the heart.
- Angiotensin II receptor blockers (ARBs). These drugs have many of the same benefits as ACE inhibitors. They may be an option for people who can’t tolerate ACE inhibitors.
- Angiotensin receptor plus neprilysin inhibitors (ARNIs). This medicine uses two blood pressure drugs to treat heart failure.
- Beta blockers. These medicines slow the heart rate and lower blood pressure. They reduce the symptoms of heart failure and help the heart work better.
- Diuretics. Often called water pills, these medicines make you urinate more frequently. This helps prevent fluid buildup in your body.
- Potassium-sparing diuretics.
- Sodium-glucose cotransporter-2 (SGLT2) inhibitors. These medicines help lower blood sugar. They are often prescribed with diet and exercise to treat type 2 diabetes. .
- Digoxin (Lanoxin). This drug, also called digitalis, helps the heart squeeze better to pump blood. It also tends to slow the heartbeat. Digoxin reduces heart failure symptoms
- Hydralazine and isosorbide dinitrate (BiDil). This drug combination helps relax blood vessels.
Check with your physician for symptoms and treatment.
This info is purely created for awareness and self empowerment and is not for diagnosing of any medical conditions. Make sure to read my disclaimer.