What is Heart Failure?

Heart failure (HF), also known as congestive heart failure or congestive cardiac failure, is a condition that our heart cannot pump enough blood flow to meet our body’s requirement. The performance of our organs and tissues are being affected due to insufficient of oxygen and nutrients delivered throughout the body. Today, “heart failure” is more commonly called as “congestive heart failure” because not every patient is suffering from volume overload during evaluation and it is not same like cessation or cardiac arrest, which involves the complete stop of the heart function and may be leads to death.

What are the Heart Failure Symptoms?

Main symptoms of heart failure are:-

  • Dyspnea – Breathlessness or shortness of breath
  • Rapid or irregular heartbeat
  • Cough or wheezing
  • Lack of appetite
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Neck veins that stick out
  • Impair memory
  • Fluid buildup
  • Gain weight rapidly due to fluid buildup

What Causes Heart Failure?

Major causes of heart failure are as below:-

  • Coronary artery/ Heart attack
  • Cardiomyopathy
  • Arrhythmia
  • Hypertension
  • Congenital heart disease
  • Heart valve disease
  • Obesity
  • Diabetes
  • Cigarette Smoking
  • Alcoholism
  • Drug abuse

Treatment

To treat heart failure, medicines and lifestyle changes both need to be adopted for better treatment result. Surgery sometime is needed to correct the symptoms that caused to heart failure such as to correct the abnormalities of heart muscle or heart valves. Heart transplantation would be the last choice if the above do not work successfully for certain case.

Lifestyle Changes

  1. Exercise – Doctor usually recommends their patients to carry out some appropriate exercises like walking, treadmill walking, swimming, bicycling or low impact aerobic. Exercise may help to strengthen the heart and cardiovascular system, prevent overweight, lower blood pressure, improve blood circulation, strengthen bones, improve sleeping quality etc. However, depending on an individual case, heart failure patient need to periodically get professional advice from doctor before start with any exercise programme. Many larger hospitals are providing good heart rehabilitation programme to their patients.
  2. Dietary – Proper dietary is needed to achieve adequate weight or to prevent obesity. The intake of salt has to be reduced to lessen swelling especially in abdomen, legs and feet. Fat, monosodium glutamate, preservative, processed foods etc. are not recommended for a person who with heart failure. Healthy and balance dietary is important to reduce the symptoms of heart failure.
  3. Habit – Doctor also advices their patients to stop smoking, lesser alcohol consumption and away from harmful drug.

Medicines

Medicines may use to treat heart failures are as below:-

  • Angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitors
  • Angiotensin receptor blockers
  • Beta blockers
  • Calcium channel blockers
  • Diuretics
  • Digitalis
  • Vasodilators

Surgery

Sometimes, surgery to be carried out to correct the heart defects that cause to heart failure. The purpose of surgery is to stop further damage of the heart in order to improve the heart’s functionality.

Bypass surgery is the most common surgery that uses to treat heart failure. When our coronary artery is blocked, lesser oxygen delivers to heart tissues. The heart muscle becomes hard to pump due to insufficient oxygen supply and causes the heart failure. The blockage of coronary artery usually can be treated with bypass surgery. Other surgeries are namely as valve surgery, LV reconstruction surgery (Dor Procedure), implantable left ventricular assist device (LVAD), heart transplant and new innovations.

Prevention of Heart Failure

The best prevention for heart failure is to monitor the risk factors that may cause to heart failure like coronary artery disease, high cholesterol, hypertension, obesity, diabetes etc. Regular exercises to improve the heart function and maintain healthy lifestyle are also important. Limit the consumption of alcohol a do not smoke help to reduce the risk of getting heart failure as well.

Summary

According to American Heart Association, nearly 5 millions of Americans are suffering with congestive heart failure and about 400,000 new cases reported very year. Knowing our health condition and pay early treatment if before getting worst is very important.