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Congestive Heart Failure – An Overview

Heart – It is the most important organ of our body. It is the restless organ which works 24/7. The heart pumps blood to all parts of your body through the blood vessels of the circulatory system such as arteries, veins, and capillaries. These blood vessels also carry blood to the heart from all parts of your body.

Blood provides oxygen and nutrients to the body and as well as it assists in the removal of metabolic wastage from the body.

What is Congestive Heart Failure?

Heart failure doesn’t mean that the heart has stopped working. It means that the heart is working less efficiently. There might be multiple possible causes, in such cases, blood moves at a slower rate through the body and thus create pressure in the heart increases. Thus makes chambers of the heart to stretch or become stiff and thickened.

In such conditions, the heart can’t send sufficient oxygenated and nutrient-rich blood which required to the body. However, the blood keeps moving, but the muscles of the heart walls may eventually become weak and unable to pump blood efficiently.

As a result, the kidneys may retain more fluid (water) and salt in the body than usual. If more fluids accumulated in the organs, the body becomes congested and heart may not pump, thus leads to congestive heart failure, the term used to describe the condition.

Congestive Heart Failure - An Overview

What happens during a Congestive Heart Failure?

When you have heart failure, your heart pumps blood slower than it should. Blood carries oxygen and nutrients all over the body. With reduced pressure in blood flow, the body does not get enough energy to function. Hence, the chambers of your heart try to stretch to hold more blood so that it can pump out more blood. Another possibility is that the heart muscles stiffen due to increased pumping pressure. But eventually, the cardiac muscles weaken and give up.

Types Of Congestive Heart Failure

Failure of Heart can possibly involve in the left side (left ventricle) or the right side (right ventricle) or both sides of your heart. Generally, left-sided congestive heart failure is the most common type. It is a result of improper blood supply out to your body by the left ventricle. As the condition advances, excessive fluid builds up in your lungs and causes breathing difficulties.

Congestive Heart Failure - An Overview

Systolic Heart Failure: It occurs when the left ventricle of the heart fails to contract as usual. In such conditions, the force available to push the blood out of the heart is not sufficient. As a result, the supply of oxygen-rich blood pumped by the heart throughout the body is limited.

Diastolic Heart Failure: It occurs when the heart might contract normally, but the ventricles are stiffened or don’t relax properly. In such conditions, the heart can’t fill with blood properly and less blood enters between heartbeats.

Similarly, Right-sided Congestive Heart Failure occurs when the right ventricle faces difficulties in pumping blood to the lungs. In such cases, the blood is backed up in the blood vessels and causes fluid retention in lower limbs, abdominal area, and in other vital organs.

A person might also have both left-sided CHF and right-sided CHF at the same time. Usually, it starts on the left side and later travels to the right when proper treatment is not taken.

Causes & Risk Factors Of Congestive Heart Failure

As age increases the chance of having heart failure also increases. CHF may be a result of other health ailments which can directly affect your cardiovascular system. There were many factors apart from fatigue cardiac muscles which can cause your heart to beat inefficiently. Some of the most reported causes are:

Congestive Heart Failure - An Overview

  • Weakened cardiac muscles
  • Damaged valves or Valvular heart disease
  • Coronary artery disease(CAD)
  • Heart attack
  • Cardiomyopathy
  • Myocarditis
  • Thyroid disease
  • Kidney diseases
  • Diabetes
  • Heart defects present at the time of birth, Genetic factors
  • Blocked blood vessels which supply blood to the heart
  • Viral infections
  • High blood pressure
  • Serious or prolonged arrhythmia
  • Congenital conditions
  • Previous history of heart attack
  • Lifestyle choices like smoking, alcohol consumption, high salt intake, obesity, drug abuse etc.

What are the symptoms of Congestive Heart Failure?

Heart failure generally comes with a number of visible symptoms.

Congestive Heart Failure - An Overview

  • Chest pain
  • Breathing difficulties(dyspnea)
  • Coughing: dry or with phlegm
  • Fast heart rate or irregular heartbeat
  • Excessive urination particularly night time
  • Loss of appetite and nausea
  • Excessive sweating
  • Dizziness and weakness
  • Fatigue: difficulty in exercising
  • Abdominal swelling
  • Bloating in the abdominal area
  • Swollen extremities such as legs, ankles and feet
  • Weight gain

These symptoms do not necessarily mean that you have a weak heart. Similarly, a weak heart does not necessarily come with all the above symptoms. But if you face any inconvenience, take an expert’s advice as soon as possible. It’s the heart in question – you don’t want to gamble with it!

How is Congestive Heart Failure diagnosed?

Blood test, MRI, CT scan, X-ray, ECG are common tests performed to diagnose CHF. A stress test measures how your heart responds to exertion. In an echocardiogram, sound waves are used to determine the size of the heart. Certain types of heart failure need to be determined by doing a myocardial biopsy where a sample of the heart muscle is by inserting a biopsy tube through a vein in your neck or groin.

How is Congestive Heart Failure Treated?

  • Medicines are one way. A doctor may give you a combination of medicines depending upon your health condition.
  • If medicines do not work, doctors may go for surgery.
  • A bypass surgery normalizes the blood flow.
  • In case you have a problem with your valves, a valve replacement or repairment surgery can be performed.
    Heart transplantation is an option too.
  • Medical equipment implantation: Various medical instruments like pacemakers, ICDs, CRTs, VADs etc. assist the heart in pumping blood at a normal pace and in a synchronized manner.

Now that you know all about heart failure, you should also understand that the health of your heart depends greatly on you. The kind of lifestyle choices you make often determine how healthy your heart will be. In case of any discomfort, or any of the symptoms above, do not wait to consult a good cardiologist.

About Sunshine Hospitals:

A Multi Super Speciality Institution, 500 bedded Sunshine Hospitals (Paradise Circle, Secunderabad) is promoted by globally reputed Joint Replacement Surgeon Dr AV Gurava Reddy (Orthopedic Doctor) and like-minded associates who share the objective of making world-standard healthcare available, affordable and accessible to the common man. Sunshine has now become one of the best hospitals for many treatments including Orthopedic, Gastroenterology, Cardiology, Trauma and Neurology.

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