The job of the heart is to pump blood to all other organs, and if there is a problem with the heart, the entire body will suffer.
Congestive heart failure of CHF is a chronic disease that progresses with time. This disease affects the heart muscles, which controlblood circulation. This condition is commonly referred to as heart failure or congestive heart failure in which a buildup of fluid around the heart muscle hinders the heart’s ability to pump blood. The fluid causes strain on the heart muscle, thus the circulation of blood is affected.
There are four chambers in our hearts – each chamber pumps blood to different parts of our body.
Congestive heart failure develops when a person’s heart becomes less powerful and as a result, is not able to pump sufficient amount of blood to the body.
When organs don’t get the requisite volume of blood, fluid and blood build up inside them.
Common Types of Congestive Heart Failure
The most common type of congestive heart failure is the left-sided CHF. It occurs when the left ventricle of your heart does not pump blood properly.
As congestive heart failure progresses, it might get difficult for you to breathe as the fluid builds up in the lungs.
Left-sided congestive heart failure has two types:
- Diastolic heart failure
- Systolic heart failure
The other type of congestive heart failure is the right-sided CHF. In this type, the right ventricle is unable to supply blood to your lungs.
As a result, blood gets backed up in the vessels, causing a buildup of fluid in your abdomen, lower extremities, and your vital organs.
A person can get both right-sided and left-sided congestive heart failure at the same time. It usually begins at the left side of your heart, and if left untreated, travels to the right.
Symptoms of Congestive Heart Failure
The symptoms of congestive heart failure are also associated with other diseases and ailments.
In the early stages of congestive heart failure, there is a possibility that you might not feel any changes or symptoms. But as the disease progresses, symptoms appear.
Following symptoms would indicate a person has congestive heart failure:
Symptoms That Occur First
- Swelling in legs, feet, ankles, or abdomen
- Increase in weight
- Frequent urination, especially a night
- Nausea or lack of appetite
Symptoms That Indicate the Progression of Disease
- Shortness of breath
- Irregular heartbeat
- A Cough
Symptoms of Severe Congestive Heart Failure
- Chest pains
- Fainting spells
- Rapid breathing
- Bluish appearance of skin
Symptoms of congestive heart failure can appear differently in infants and children. Following are the symptoms that will indicate if a child or infant is suffering from congestive heart failure.
- Lack of appetite
- Difficulty in breathing or a faster than usual heart rate
- Excessive sweating
- Small appearance
- Puffiness around the eyes
However, there’s a slight problem when a child is suffering from congestive heart failure. The symptoms mentioned above can very likely be mistaken for a repertory infection or colic. This makes it difficult to diagnose congestive heart failure in children and infants when compared to adults.
If you have any of these symptoms, visit your doctor immediately.
Causes of Congestive Heart Failure
Congestive heart failure can often develop in a person when their heart has been weakened or damaged by some other conditions.
Though, it is not always the case. Sometimes it can occur if the heart of a person becomes too stiff.
When a person’s heart begins to fail, the ventricles of the heart becomes too stiff, which causes them to not fill properly. Or the heart muscles become so weak and damaged that the ventricles dilate and stretch to an extent that the efficiency of blood circulation throughout the body is affected.
There are certain other conditions that contribute towards congestive heart failure in a person. They are:
Heart Attack or Coronary Artery Disease
Coronary arteries supply blood to your heart. Fatty substances or plaque and cholesterol can block them. When these arteries are blocked over time, they become narrow, and that causes the blood flow to get restricted.
This can cause your arteries to get damaged. When a person’s arteries a damaged, a heart attack is inevitable.
Coronary artery disease is one of the main causes of congestive heart failure.
Hypertension or High Blood Pressure
Another cause of congestive heart failure is high blood pressure or hypertension. If you have high blood pressure, your heart muscle works extra hard to pump blood through your body.
As time passes, because of the overexertion, the muscles in your heart can become too weak or too stiff to properly circulate blood to your body. If you have high blood pressure, your heart muscle workextra hard to pump blood through your body.
Faulty Heart Valves
The valves are responsible to regulate the flow of blood through your heart. They provide proper direction to blood. If the valves don’t perform their job properly, the heart will have to work extra hard to circulate blood through the body.
This can lead you to have a heart defect, infection, or coronary artery disease, which can later lead you to get congestive heart failure.
Cardiomyopathy is the damage to the heart muscle.
There are several causes of cardiomyopathy, like drug use (cocaine is a major culprit), toxic effect of chemotherapy, alcohol abuse, infection and genetic factors.
If a person’s heart muscle is weakened, there is a higher chance of them getting congestive heart failure.
Other Conditions or Diseases
There are several other diseases or conditions that can lead a person to have congestive heart failure like:
- Allergic reactions
- Blood clots in the lungs
- Buildup of protein or iron
Who is at Risk of Getting Congestive Heart Failure?
Here are several factors that may increase your chances of getting congestive heart failure. These factors include:
People with diabetes are at risk of getting coronary artery disease, which can lead them to have congestive heart failure.
A virus or an infection can cause your heart muscles to get damaged, making it vulnerable to congestive heart failure.
Alcohol and Tobacco Use
Tobacco and alcohol can weaken the muscles of your heart and cause a heart attack. The damage suffered by the heart from the heart attack can contribute to a person getting congestive heart failure.
People who face problems with obesity are more at risk of getting congestive heart failure.
Heart arrhythmias are irregular rhythms of heart. They can cause a person’s heart to weaken, leading to congestive heart failure.
People who can’t breathe properly when they are sleeping suffer from sleep apnea. This problem can damage the heart.
Diagnosis of Congestive Heart Failure
If you have any of these symptoms, you must pay a visit to our cardiologist immediately.
There are several tests that are done to diagnose congestive heart failure. The cardiologist will initially perform a physical exam.
Following techniques are used to diagnose congestive heart failure:
Sound waves are used in an echocardiogram to record the motion and structure of the heart. Following things can be revealed through an echocardiogram:
- If you have poor blood flow
- If you have muscle damage; or
- Whether your heart muscle is contracting normally or not
Electrocardiogram or ECG
The rhythm of your heart is recorded with the help of an electrocardiogram or ECG. If there are anyabnormalities with the rhythm of your heart, the ECG will catch it. Thoseabnormalities might be irregular heart rhythm or rapid heartbeat.
These symptoms can indicate that your heart chamber’s walls are thicker than they should be, which can lead you to have a heart attack.
A chest X-ray will show if there is fluid around your lungs and what the size of your heart is. Having fluid around your lungs is a sign of congestive heart failure.
An MRI can indicate any possible damage your heart might have, which can lead to the diagnosis.
Blood tests can also indicate if you have any infections or an abnormal blood cells count.
This test can show if there are any blockages in your coronary arteries.
Treatment of Congestive Heart Failure
With advancements in science, there are several treatment options available for people who suffer from congestive heart failure.
There are several medications that you can take. These medications are prescribed according to the advancement of the disease.
If you are not a candidate for medications, there are several surgical procedures that will help with congestive heart failure.
Some of these procedures are:
Angioplasty is the procedure performed to remove the blockage from your arteries.
Valve Repair Surgery
If your heart’s valves are damaged, your physician can perform a valve repair surgery to correct them.
The main goal of these treatments is to keep you healthy so that heart failure could be avoided. .
Reversing Congestive Heart Failure
It is possible to reverse congestive heart failure. Once the condition of your heart is assessed, the physician will take further steps to treat your congestive heart failure and start appropriate treatment.
This treatment starts with medications and then other procedures may be done to attempt to help the heart get stronger. There are a lot of medications available that will help in improving the quality of your life.
Cardiac viability tests are non-invasive tests that should be done initially to asses if the heart muscle is still alive and if the heart’s condition is reversible. Cardiac viability tests should be done prior to any invasive procedures, to make sure the heart condition is reversible and to see if the invasive procedure is truly needed.
For reversal of this disease, early diagnosis is very important.
Cardiac PET provides one of the best and easiest ways to assess for cardiac viability in all individuals.
How to Live With Congestive Heart Failure
People who suffer from congestive heart failure can live a long life.
Diet change is very important in patients with congestive heart failure. People who have this disease must keep an eye on their sodium levels.
A few other things that can prove to be beneficial are:
- Keeping a balanced diet
- Exercising daily
- Keeping low weight
- Managing stress
- Reducing hypertension
- Staying away from drugs and alcohol
These things will have a positive effect on your condition and treatment.
When the patient takes appropriate measures, congestive heart disease can be treated easily; in fact it can even be reversed.
How can you Prevent Congestive Heart Failure
There are several things that you can do that will lower your chances of getting congestive heart failure. Here are a few things that you can do that will prove to be helpful:
- Quit or avoid smoking
- Keep a well-balanced diet
- Exercise daily
- Keep an eye on your weight
- Stay away from drugs
- Avoid excessive drinking
- Control your blood pressure
People with congestive heart failure lead a fairly normal life. All they need to do is keep up with their medications and diet plan, and they can lead a happy and healthy life.
Are you suffering from these symptoms? There is an easy way to find out whether you have congestive heart failure. Call us today at (201) 882-6088. We use the latest technologies and give you the correct diagnosis.