What is Heart Failure
The disease “heart failure” does not mean that your heart has stopped.
In fact, heart failure means that the heart muscle is unable to pump enough blood to meet the body’s need for blood and oxygen.
This consequently cause blood backflow and fluids backup. In turn, it can cause fluid build-up in the lungs, causing shortness of breath.
Usually, it is caused by other medical conditions that damage the heart. For instance, coronary heart disease, heart inflammation, high blood pressure, or irregular heartbeat.
Signs & Symptoms
Heart disease can get worse or may start suddenly. For instance, 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
Among the complications of heart failure is arrhythmia. A condition where the heart beats irregularly.
Besides, this disease also can cause liver damage. This is due to the accumulation of fluid in the liver, causing high pressure in the liver.
This in turn will lead to scarring, causing difficulty for the liver to function properly.
How to Diagnose Heart Failure
The most effective way to diagnose this disease is by an echocardiogram (ECG).
This procedure uses sound waves to create detailed pictures of your heart.
So, it helps to evaluate the damage to your heart and determine the underlying causes of the patient’s condition.
As opposed to using sound waves, blood test may also help to diagnose this disease.
The test check for a chemical N-terminal pro-B-type Natriuretic peptide (NT-proBNP) if the diagnosis isn’t certain after other tests.
The chemical measures the concentration of a hormone produced by the left ventricle which grades the severity of heart failure.
Prevention and Treatment
Ultimately, regular physical activity and maintaining a healthy body weight are the keys to prevent heart failure.
Besides, eating plenty of fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains also can help to prevent this chronic condition.
In addition, smoking cessation and moderate alcohol intake may reduce the risk of getting this disease.
In terms of treatment, patients with this disease usually needs a lifelong management.
Treatment may help to improve quality of life and life expectancy.
There are some medications you can take with doctor’s prescription to treat this disease, such as:
- Beta-blockers: It slows and reduces blood pressure.
- Diuretics: Helps to remove excess fluids.
- Cardiac glycosides: 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.
- Heart valve repair/replacement: This procedure replaces or repairs a faulty heart valve. The original valve can be modified to eliminate backward blood flow.
Though medications may help manage this disease, there is still no cure. Damage to your heart muscle may improve but it will not return to normal.
To treat the disease properly, take the medication prescribed by the doctor.
In conclusion, living a healthy lifestyle is recommended to prevent heart failure.