Congestive Heart Failure – What is it, Symptoms and Treatments!

Congestive Heart Failure – What it is, Symptoms and Treatments of this condition. Congestive Heart Failure is a chronic progressive condition that affects the pumping power of the heart muscles. While often referred to simply as “ heart failure ,” Congestive Heart Failure specifically refers to the stage where fluid builds up around the heart and causes it to pump inefficiently.

Congestive heart failure

You have four heart chambers. The top half of your heart has two atria, and the bottom half of your heart has two ventricles. The ventricles pump blood  to your body’s organs and tissues, and the atria receive blood from your body as it circulates back from the rest of your body.

Congestive heart failure develops when your ventricles cannot pump enough blood to your body. Eventually, blood and other fluids can back up inside your:

  • Lungs
  • Abdomen
  • Liver
  • slow body

Congestive heart failure can be fatal. If you suspect that you or someone close to you has CHF, seek immediate medical treatment.

Types of heart failure:

  • Congestive Heart Failure is the most common type of heart failure . It occurs when the left ventricle does not pump blood to the body. As the condition progresses, fluid can build up in the lungs, which makes breathing difficult.

There are two types of left-sided heart failure :

Systolic Heart Failure occurs when the left ventricle fails to contract normally. This reduces the level of force available to push blood into the circulation. Without this force, the heart cannot pump properly.

Diastolic Failure , or diastolic dysfunction, occurs when the left ventricular muscle becomes stiff. Because it can no longer relax, the heart cannot fill with blood between beats.

Right -sided heart failure  occurs when the right ventricle has difficulty pumping blood to the lungs. Blood traps blood vessels, which causes fluid retention in the lower extremities, abdomen, and other vital organs.

It is possible to have both left-sided and right-sided Congestive Heart Failure at the same time. Usually, the disease starts on the left side and then travels to the right when left untreated.

Causes of Congestive Heart Failure: Congestive Heart Failure can result from other health conditions that directly affect your cardiovascular system. That’s why it’s important to get annual checkups to lower your risk of heart health problems, including high blood pressure (hypertension), coronary artery disease, and valvular conditions.

Hypertension: When your blood pressure is higher than normal, it can lead to Congestive Heart Failure . Hypertension occurs when blood vessels are restricted to cholesterol and fat. This makes it harder for your blood to pass through them.

Coronary Artery Disease: Cholesterol and other types of fatty substances can block the coronary arteries, which are the small arteries that supply blood to the heart . This causes the arteries to become narrow. The narrower coronary arteries restrict blood flow and can cause damage to the arteries.

Valve Conditions: Your heart valves regulate blood flow through your heart by opening and closing to let blood in and out of the chambers. Valves that don’t open and close properly can force your ventricles to work harder to pump blood . This could be a result of a heart infection or defect.

Other Conditions: While heart -related diseases can lead to Congestive Heart Failure , there are other seemingly unrelated conditions that can also increase your risk. These include diabetes, thyroid disease and obesity. Serious infections and allergic reactions can also contribute to Congestive Heart Failure .

Congestive heart failure

Symptoms of Congestive Heart Failure: In the early stages of Congestive Heart Failure , you will likely not notice any changes in your health. If your condition evolves, you will experience gradual changes in your body.

  • Symptoms you might notice first
  • Fatigue
  • Swelling in the ankles, feet and legs
  • Weight gain
  • Increased need to urinate, especially at night

Symptoms that indicate your condition has worsened

  • cardiac arrhythmia
  • Cough that develops from congested lungs
  • wheezing
  • Shortness of breath, which may indicate pulmonary edema

Symptoms that indicate a serious heart condition

  • Chest pain that radiates through the upper body
  • fast breathing
  • Skin that looks blue, which is due to a lack of oxygen in your lungs
  • faint

Chest pain that radiates through the upper body can also be a sign of a heart attack. If you experience this or any of the other symptoms that could indicate a serious heart condition, seek immediate medical attention.

Diagnoses of Congestive Heart Failure: After reporting your symptoms to your doctor, they may refer you to a heart specialist or cardiologist.

Your cardiologist will perform a physical exam. The test may involve listening to your heart with a stethoscope to detect abnormal heart rhythms. To confirm an initial diagnosis, your cardiologist may order certain diagnostic tests to examine your heart’s valves, blood vessels, and heart chambers .

Here are some tests your cardiologist may recommend:

  • An electrocardiogram (EKG or ECG) records your heart ‘s rhythm . Heart rhythm abnormalities, such as a fast heartbeat or an irregular rhythm, suggest that your heart ‘s chamber walls are thicker than normal. This could be a warning sign of a heart attack.
  • An echocardiogram uses sound waves to record the structure and movement of the heart . The test can determine if you already have poor blood flow, muscle damage, or a heart muscle that doesn’t contract normally.
  • An MRI takes pictures of your heart . With both still and moving images, this allows your doctor to see if there is damage to your heart .
  • Stress tests show how well your heart performs under different levels of stress. Making your heart  work harder makes it easier for your doctor to diagnose problems.
  • Blood tests can check for abnormal cells and red blood cells. Blood tests can also check the level of BNP, a hormone that increases with heart failure .

Cardiac catheterization may show blockages of the coronary arteries. Your doctor will insert a small tube into the blood vessel and thread it through your upper thigh (groin area), arm, or wrist. At the same time, the doctor may take blood samples , use X-rays to view your coronary arteries, and check blood flow and pressure in your heart chambers.

Congestive heart failure

Treatments for Congestive Heart Failure: You and your doctor may consider different treatments depending on your overall health and how far your condition has progressed.

Congestive Heart Failure Medications: There are several medications that can be used to treat Congestive Heart Failure , including:

Angiotensin Converting Enzyme Inhibitors (ACE Inhibitors): Opens narrowed blood vessels to improve blood flow. Vasodilators are another option if you cannot tolerate ACE inhibitors.

You may be prescribed one of the following:

  • Benazepril (Lotensin)
  • Captopril (Capoten)
  • Enalapril (Vasotec)
  • Fosinopril (Monopril)
  • Lisinopril (Zestril)
  • Quinapril (Accupril)
  • Ramipril (Altace)
  • moexipril (Univasc)
  • Perindopril (Aceon)
  • Trandolapril (Mavik)

ACE inhibitors should not be taken with the following medications as they may cause an adverse reaction:

  • Thiazide diuretics can cause a further decrease in blood pressure.
  • Potassium-sparing diuretics, such as triamterene (Dyrenium), eplerenone (Inspra), and spironolactone (Aldactone), can cause potassium to build up in the blood . This can lead to abnormal heart rhythms.
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen, aspirin, and naproxen can cause sodium and water retention. This can reduce the ACE inhibitor’s effect on your blood pressure.

This is an abbreviated list, so you shouldn’t assume something is safe, because it’s not listed. You should always speak to your doctor before taking any new medication. Beta-blockers can lower blood pressure and slow a fast heart rate. This can be achieved with:

  • Acebutolol (Sectral)
  • Atenolol (Tenormin)
  • Bisoprolol (Zebeta)
  • Cartolol (Cartrol)
  • Esmolol (Brevibloc)
  • Metoprolol (Lopressor)
  • Nadolol (Corgard)
  • Nebivolol (Bystolic)
  • Propranolol (Inderal LA)

Blockers should not be taken with the following medications as they may cause an adverse reaction:

  • Antiarrhythmic drugs such as amiodarone (Nexterone) can increase cardiovascular effects, including lowering blood pressure and slowing heart rate.
  • Antihypertensive medications such as lisinopril (Zestril), candesartan (Atacand), and amlodipine (Norvasc) may also increase the likelihood of cardiovascular effects.
  • The bronchodilation effects of Albuterol (AccuNeb) can be amplified by beta-blockers.
    Fentora (Fentanyl) can cause low blood pressure.
  • Antipsychotics such as thioridazine (Mellaril) can also cause low blood pressure.
  • Clonidine (Catapres) can cause high blood pressure.

Some medications may not be listed here. You should always consult your doctor before taking any new medication.

  • Diuretics reduce your body’s fluid content. CHF can cause your body to retain more fluid than it should.
  • Your doctor may recommend:
  • Thiazide diuretics, which cause blood vessels to widen and help the body remove any extra fluid. Examples include metolazone (Zaroxolyn), indapamide (Lozol) and hydrochlorothiazide (Microzide).
  • Loop diuretics, which cause the kidneys to produce more urine. This helps remove excess fluid from your body. Examples include furosemide (Lasix), ethacrynic acid (Edecrin) and torsemide (Demadex).
  • Potassium-sparing diuretics, which help eliminate fluids and sodium while still maintaining potassium. Examples include triamterene (Dyrenium), eplerenone (Inspra) and spironolactone (Aldactone).

Diuretics should not be taken with the following medications as they may cause an adverse reaction:

  • ACE inhibitors such as lisinopril (Zestril), benazepril (Lotensin), and captopril (Capoten) can cause low blood pressure.
  • Tricyclics such as amitriptyline and desipramine (Norpramin) can cause low blood pressure.
  • Anxiolytics such as alprazolam (Xanax), chlordiazepoxide (Librium), and diazepam (Valium) can cause low blood pressure.
  • Hypnotics, such as zolpidem (Ambien) and triazolam (Halcion), can cause low blood pressure.
  • Beta-blockers such as acebutolol (Sectral) and atenolol (Tenormin) can cause low blood pressure.
  • Calcium channel blockers such as amlodipine (Norvasc) and diltiazem (Cardizem) can cause a drop in blood pressure.
  • Nitrates such as nitroglycerin (Nitrostat) and isosorbide dinitrate (Isordil) can cause low blood pressure.
  • NSAIDS, such as ibuprofen, aspirin, and naproxen, can cause liver toxicity.

This is an abbreviated list containing only the most common drug interactions. You should always speak to your doctor before taking any new medication.

Surgeries: If medications are not effective on their own, more invasive procedures may be needed. Angioplasty, a procedure to open blocked arteries, is an option. Your cardiologist may also consider heart valve repair surgery to help your valves open and close properly.

Preventing Congestive Heart Failure: There are several things you can do to lower your risk of heart failure , or at least delay the onset. You may:

Don’t smoke: If you smoke and haven’t been able to quit, ask your doctor to recommend products and services that might help. Secondhand smoke is also a health risk. If you live with a smoker, ask them to be outside.

Maintain a Well-Balanced Diet: A heart -healthy diet is rich in vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. Dairy products must be low-fat or fat-free. You also need protein in your diet. Things to avoid include salt (sodium), added sugars, solid fats and refined grains.

Exercise: Just one hour of moderate aerobic exercise a week can improve your heart health . Walking, cycling and swimming are all good forms of exercise. If you haven’t exercised in a while, start with just 15 minutes a day and work your way up. If you feel unmotivated to work alone, consider taking a class or signing up for personal training at a local gym.

Watch Your Weight: Being too heavy can be hard on your heart . Follow a balanced diet and exercise regularly. If you’re not at a healthy weight, talk to your doctor about moving forward. You can also consult a nutritionist or nutritionist.

Be careful: drink alcohol only in moderation and stay away from illegal drugs. When taking prescription drugs, follow instructions carefully and never increase your dose without your doctor’s supervision.

If you are at high risk for heart failure or already have some heart damage, you can still take these steps. Be sure to ask your doctor how safe physical activity is and if you have any other restrictions. If you are taking medication for high blood pressure, heart disease, or diabetes, take them exactly as directed. See your doctor regularly to monitor your condition and report any new symptoms right away.

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