Heart failure, also known as congestive heart failure, is a condition in which heart muscles do not pump blood well as they should. Heart failure does not stop the working of the heart, rather it makes the heart work less efficiently. This condition gradually makes your heart weak to fill and pump blood efficiently.
Heart failure is usually caused as a result of other conditions that damage the heart’s functioning. Some of them are:
- Heart valve problems
- Disorders of heart muscles such as cardiomyopathy
- Congenital heart defects
- Coronary artery disease
- Heart attack
- High blood pressure
- Thyroid disorders
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath
- Irregular heartbeat
- Swollen legs, ankles and/or feet
- Swelling of abdomen
- Difficulty in concentrating
- Rapid weight gain
- Frequent urge to urinate
- Persistent cough
Diagnosis for heart failure is based on
- Physical examination
- Signs and symptoms
- Blood tests
- Chest X-ray
- Cardiac catheterization
- Stress test
Lifestyle change is the possible way to prevent heart failure and other disorders of heart:
- Avoid smoking and alcohol
- Control blood pressure, sugar and cholesterol levels
- Stay physically active
- Regular exercise
- Healthy diet
- Maintain healthy weight
- Stress management
Treatment for heart failure depends on the severity of the condition. It involves medications, healthy lifestyle, medical devices and surgical procedures.
- Some of the medicines used in the treatment of heart failure includes beta blockers, diuretics, angiotensin II receptor blockers and a few more. These medicines help in reducing heart rate, blood pressure, reversing some of the possible damages to heart, keep fluids from collecting in your body, reducing risks of abnormal heart rhythms and reduce chances of death.
- Some of the surgical procedures and medical devices used in the treatment of heart failure include:
- Heart valve replacement or repairing one or more heart valves if possible or replaced by an artificial or prosthetic valve.
- Coronary bypass surgery can be done in the treatment for heart failure in which blood vessels from chest, legs or arms bypass a blocked artery in your heart. This procedure allows more flow of blood through your heart.
- Implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICD), a device similar to a pacemaker which monitors heart rhythm.
- Cardiac resynchronization therapy (CRT): This method is often used along with an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) for efficient heart muscle contractions and pump blood more efficiently and in a more coordinated manner.
- Heart transplant: Incidents where the diseased heart cannot be treated efficiently and remains a threat to life, it is replaced with a healthy heart from a donor.
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