Heart failure occurs when the heart muscle doesn't pump blood as it should. When this happens, blood often backs up and fluid builds up in the lungs, causing shortness of breath.
Heart failure can be life-threatening. People with heart failure may have severe symptoms wherein some may need a heart transplant or a ventricular assist device (VAD).
Heart failure can affect the right or left side of your heart or both at the same time. It can be either an acute (short-term) or chronic (ongoing) condition.
One way to prevent heart failure is to prevent and control conditions that can cause heart failure such as coronary artery disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity.
Proper treatment can improve the signs and symptoms of heart failure. Lifestyle changes such as losing weight, exercising, reducing salt (sodium) in diet and managing stress can improve the quality of life.
Heart failure can be ongoing (chronic), or it may start suddenly (acute).
Heart failure signs and symptoms may include:
Heart failure can happen to anyone. However, certain factors may increase your risk of developing this condition. Paroxysmal nocturnal dyspnea means sudden shortness of breath during sleep, feeling tired, breathlessness while doing routine / daily activities indicates damage caused to the heart. In such cases immediate doctor’s attention is required followed by timely treatment.
People with specific diseases that damage the heart are also at an increased risk. These conditions include hypertension, diabetes, anemia, hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism and valve disease.
Certain behaviours can also increase the risk of developing heart failure like:
Source – Google Images
Source – Google Images
Source – Google Images
If heart failure is not diagnosed at the right time and not treated, person may face complications, such as,
1. Kidney Damage
2. Liver Damage
3. Heart Valve Disorders
4. Heart Arrhythmias
1. HISTORY AND PHYSICAL EXAMINATION :-
Doctor may go for a physical examination like looking for leg swellings, irregular heart rate which would help in diagnosing heart failure.
2. CHEST X-RAY :-
This test can provide images of the heart and the surrounding organs.
3. 2D ECHOCARDIOGRAM :-
An echocardiogram is the most effective way to diagnose heart failure. It helps the doctor to evaluate any damage caused to the heart.
4. BLOOD TEST (NT PRO BNP) :-
This test can detect a rise in B-type natriuretic peptide (BNP) hormone, which can be an indication of heart failure.
CARDIAC MRI – This test is performed to know the exact reason for heart failure by doing a detailed evaluation.
CORONARY ARTERIAL ANGIOGRAPHY – This test helps in knowing the blockages in the arteries.
Treating heart failure depends on the severity and the type of heart failure one has.
Important instructions to be followed strictly are 1) Salt restricted diet, 2) Fluid restriction – Patients are instructed to limit their fluid intake to avoid retention of excess fluid in the heart and 3) Avoidance of physical activity so that there is less pressure on functioning of the heart.
Early treatment can improve symptoms fairly quickly, but one should still get regular testing and follow up with consulting doctor every 3 to 6 months.
Treatment of heart failure may include one or more of the following:
Latest treatment involves medicines like ACE INHIBITORS, BETA BLOCKERS, CALCIUM CHANNEL BLOCKERS, DIGOXIN, DIURETICS.
These medicines are prescribed to:
Treating on time can significantly improve the quality of life and lifespan can be extended too.
In some patients, heart failure caused due to artery blockage can be treated by Angioplasty and CABG – CORONARY ARTERY BYPASS GRAFT SURGERY.
Some patients suffering from valve disorders are advised Valve Repair or Valve Replacement as per the condition of heart failure.
In some patients VAD – Ventricular Assist Device procedure is performed and in some cases Heart Transplant is performed.
Some lifestyle measures can help treat heart failure and prevent the condition from developing.
Maintaining a moderate weight and exercising regularly can significantly decrease the risk of heart failure. Reducing the amount of salt in your diet can also lower your risk.
Other habits that may prevent heart failure include:
It’s very important to take timely measures against heart failure. Regular follow up, doing physical activities and getting investigations done at the right time will always help in managing and leading a peaceful life.
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