What is Heart Failure?
The term heart failure can sometimes be frightening to people. The definition of heart failure is a chronic, continuous condition in which the heart muscle is unable to pump enough blood to meet the body’s need for blood and oxygen. As a result, body functions are disturbed when there is not enough blood flow. The term “heart failure” does not mean that your heart has stopped. However, heart failure is a serious condition that needs fast treatment.
Usually, heart failure is caused by other medical condition that damages the heart. For instance, this includes coronary heart disease, heart inflammation, high blood pressure, or an irregular heartbeat.
Heart failure can get worse or may start suddenly. For instance, heart failure sign and symptoms may include:
- Shortness of breath when you lie down
- Fatigue and weakness
- Persistent cough
- Lack of appetite and nausea
- Reduced ability to exercise
Types of Heart Failure
Left-Sided Heart Failure
Fluid may back up in your lungs, causing shortness of breath.
Right-Sided Heart Failure
Fluid may back up into your abdomen, legs, and feet causing swelling.
Systolic Heart Failure
The left ventricle can’t contract vigorously, indicating a pump problem.
Diastolic Heart Failure
The left ventricle can’t relax/fill fully, indicating a filling problem.
Anyone can get heart failure. However, certain factors may contribute to a higher risk of developing this heart failure condition. As an example, people of African descent are at the highest risk of having heart failure compared to other races and men also have a higher incidence than women.
People with a certain disease that damages the heart are also at a higher risk to develop heart failure. These diseases include:
- Hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism
- High blood pressure: your heart works harder than it has to when your blood pressure is high.
- Certain behaviors such as smoking, eating foods high in fat and cholesterol, living a sedentary lifestyle, and being overweight can also increase your risk of developing heart failure.
Arrhythmias is one of the potential complications of heart failure. Besides, heart failure also can cause liver damage. This will leads to the accumulation of fluid that puts too much pressure on the liver. This fluid backup will lead to scarring, which causes difficulty for the liver to function properly.
How to Diagnose Heart Failure
The most effective way to diagnose heart failure is by an echocardiogram. This procedure uses sound waves to create detailed pictures of your heart. This can help to evaluate the damage to your heart and determine the underlying causes of the patient’s condition. In addition, the echocardiogram also measures the ejection fraction of the heart which important to see how well your heart is pumping and used to help classify heart failure.
Blood tests also can be used to detect heart failure. Take a blood sample to look for signs of disease that can affect the heart. The test check for a chemical N-terminal pro-B-type Natriuretic peptide (NT-proBNP) if the diagnosis isn’t certain after other tests. Certainly, the chemical measure the concentration of a hormone produced by the left ventricle which grade the severity of the heart failure.
Prevention and Treatment of Heart Failure
On the first place, regular physical activity and maintaining a healthy body weight are the key to prevent heart failure. Besides, eat plenty of fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains also can help to prevent heart failure. In addition, we also can prevent heart failure by stop smoking and limit moderate alcohol intake.
To treat heart failure, it need a lifelong management since it is a chronic disease. Treatment may help the patients to live longer and reduce their chance of dying suddenly.
These are some medications you can take to treat heart failure:
- Beta-blockers: it slows and reduces blood pressure. Examples are carvedilol, metoprolol, and bisoprolol.
- Diuretics: cause the patients to urinate more frequently.
- Digoxin: increase the strength of heart muscle contractions and also tend to slow heartbeat.
In some cases, doctors recommend surgery to treat the underlying problem that led to heart failure. Some of them are:
- Coronary bypass surgery: This procedure is recommended if there are severely blocked arteries that contribute to heart failure.
- Heart valve repair/replacement: This procedure is recommended to replace or repair the valve if a faulty heart valve causes heart failure. The original valve can be modified to eliminate backward blood flow.
There is no cure for heart failure. Damage to your heart muscle may improve but it will not go away.
In a conclusion, heart failure usually occurs with other diseases that damage the heart. Living a healthy lifestyle is recommended to prevent heart failure. To treat the disease properly, take the medication prescribed by the doctor.
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