What is Congestive Heart Failure?
Heart disease is one of the leading causes of death in men and women worldwide. Congestive heart failure, the chronic progressive condition of the heart is one of the most common types of heart disease.
Due to its unnoticeable presence influenced by unhealthy lifestyle, stress, unhealthy diet, etc. congestive heart failure is often unfelt and undiagnosed. Being one of the prominent health threats, this condition needs attention, understanding of risk factors and preventive health care services. More people are opting for heart insurance to plan for their future health and unexpected contingencies.
It is a chronic progressive condition of the heart where the fluid builds up around the heart and reduces the ability of the heart to pump enough blood to the body.
It doesn’t mean that the heart stops working altogether, but that the heart is not pumping enough blood volume to be able to meet the needs of the body.
When the heart is not circulating enough blood volume to the body, the kidneys receive less blood than anticipated. As a result, it filters less fluid for circulation into the urine. The extra fluid that remains in the circulation starts building up in the liver, lungs, eyes, and even hands and legs. The fluid is termed as ‘congestion’. Due to the building up of congestion, increased stress is created on the heart that increases the seriousness of congestive heart failure.
Common Types of Congestive Heart Failure
The building up of congestion around the heart or different body organs can make functioning difficult. The left ventricle is rendered inefficient in pumping blood to the body, is one of the common types of congestive heart failure.
Broadly classifying, there are two common types of congestive heart failure:
Systolic Heart Failure:
Here the contraction and repulsion power of the left ventricle is disturbed which reduces the force available for the heart to pump blood circulation. Without the force of contraction and repulsion, the heart cannot function properly.
Diastolic Heart Failure:
In this case, the stiffness in the muscles around the left-ventricle causes diastolic heart failure. The stiffness renders it impossible for the heart to relax. During the beats, an insufficient amount of blood is pulled into the ventricle leading to lesser pump out of the blood.
The right-side congestive heart failure occurs when the right ventricle becomes inefficient. While the disease is known to impact the left-ventricle first, both the ventricles can become ineffective at once too.
Symptoms of Congestive Heart Failure
During the early stages of CHF, there are no significant health changes or congestive heart failure symptoms visible to the person. As the condition progresses, more visible symptoms and gradual health changes start showing its presence. These include:
- Frequent fatigue
- Weight gain or obesity
- Increased urge to urinate (especially during the night)
- Swelling in the hands, legs, and feet
More Severe Symptoms Include:
- Irregular heartbeat
- Cheat pain radiating on the upper body
- Blue tinge on the skin (a symptom of oxygen deficiency)
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Causes of Congestive Heart Failure
The cardiovascular system can get affected due to improper lifestyle, unhealthy habits and even other related diseases that impact the heart directly. Some of the popularly known causes that determine the risk of congestive heart failure are:
High blood pressure or hypertension has a high impact on the heart. It narrows the arteries, makes the muscles stiff and makes it harder for the heart to circulate blood. It can lead to CHF.
Contraction and repulsion of the heart valves are responsible for creating pressure that pulls the blood in and pumps the blood out. If this opening and closing of the valves are disturbed it can get harder for the heart to pump the blood out. Thus leading to infections, breathlessness, congestion and heart failure.
Coronary Artery Disease:
Fatty food, inactive lifestyle etc. is known to increase cholesterol in the body. The cholesterol can block the small arteries that supply the blood to the heart. This damage or blockage in the arteries can result in cardiac arrest or congestive heart failure.
Some health concerns that are unrelated to the heart can also impact heart health significantly. These include obesity, diabetes, thyroid, allergies, etc. One health concern impacts body functioning leading to another health concern.
Improper diet, substance abuse, alcohol, smoking, inactive lifestyle, etc are some of the lifestyle concerns that have a history of aiding heart failures. If the body and heart are not healthy, CHF is triggered.
Diagnosing Congestive Heart Failure
Consultation with a cardiologist is the first step to diagnosing congestive heart failure. Your cardiologist can run a physical examination on you to check heart rhythms, pulse rate, breathlessness, etc. to check on prime symptoms. Additionally, tests like electrocardiogram (recording heart rhythms), MRI (picturing heart), echocardiogram (recording motion and heart structure), Cardiac catheterization (find a blockage in arteries), stress tests and blood tests are carried out to establish the signs of congestive heart failure.
Treatment of Congestive Heart Failure
Depending upon the severity of the condition, the doctors devise treatment programs for their patients individually. Here are some of the treatments undertaken by the doctors:
- Lifestyle change: Usually when the condition in its initial stage, doctors suggest a lifestyle change to naturally treat the underlying causes of CHF.
- Congestive heart failure drugs: Several medications are prescribed to decrease the formation of congestion, aid blood pumping and improve heart health. This includes ACE inhibitors, beta-blockers, diuretics, etc.
- Surgeries: Doctors undertake Angioplasty to open up the blocked arteries and improve blood functioning. Valve repair surgery is also undertaken to treat the valve conditions.
Congestive heart failure is a progressive disease that can be prevented with effective lifestyle changes and solicited advice from the doctors.
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