Heart failure is something that happens when the heart can’t pump enough blood to enable the continuous functioning of other body organs. Unfortunately, it has been calculated that about 5.7 million adults in the United States of America suffer from heart failure in some form. Congestive heart failure is a type of heart failure that is characterized by the accumulation of fluids. For that reason, congestive heart failure symptoms revolve around the excessive accumulation of liquids as well as heart malfunction. This article will go over the symptoms, types, stages, and treatment of this condition.
What Is Congestive Heart Failure?
Congestive heart failure (CHF) is a serious chronic condition that affects the pumping strength of heart muscles. Differentiating itself from other conditions that have the same result, congestive heart failure occurs due to fluid buildup around the heart. This fluid prevents the heart from pumping with normalcy, causing the blood flood to become weakened. As a result, the chambers of the heart strain themselves by stretching to hold more blood, becoming weakened and, eventually, causing the collapse of the entire system. Unfortunately, congestive heart failure life expectancy averages at only ten years.
Congestive Heart Failure Symptoms
Initially, there may not be any noticeable congestive heart failure symptoms. Unfortunately, however, that often changes as quickly as the condition progresses. Normally, the first congestive heart failure symptoms to appear are rather mild. They include fatigue, swelling of different body parts and an increased need to urinate. However, at a more developed stage, the condition can produce the following symptoms:
- Congested lungs: One of the most noticeable congestive heart failure signs is a congestion of the lungs. The accumulation of blood, mucus, and other substances in the lungs makes itself evident by provoking pain, tenderness, discomfort, coughing and difficulty breathing.
- Fluid and water retention: Among the most uncomfortable congestive heart failure symptoms is fluid retention. The strain that the heart suffers due to congestive heart failure causes the body to accumulate fluids in the lungs, abdomen, liver and the lower body. A telltale sign of this is a conspicuous swelling of the feet, ankles, and legs.
- Dizziness, fatigue, and weakness: Particularly during moments of physical activity, CHF sufferers may experience shortness of breath and general physical weakness. This can be accompanied by dizziness due to lack of oxygen reaching the brain.
- Rapid or irregular heartbeats: Congestive heart failure symptoms also include arrhythmia, a condition that brings about irregular heartbeats. Due to the additional strain due to CHF, the heart may suffer from occasional arrhythmia episodes.
What Causes Congestive Heart Failure?
Normally, congestive heart failure results from other medical conditions that affect a person’s cardiovascular system. Some of the most noteworthy are:
- Coronary artery disease: Caused by fat and other substances blocking coronary arteries, coronary artery disease restricts blood flow to and from the heart, damaging arteries and potentially causing CHF.
- Hypertension: In a fashion similar to coronary artery disease, hypertension is caused by blood vessels becoming blocked by various substances, increasing overall blood pressure in the entire circulatory system.
- Valve Conditions: By opening and closing, heart valves regulate blood flow. If they work incorrectly, they may force the ventricles to work harder in order to pump blood through the circulatory system.
- Others: Unfortunately, there are some conditions that can lead to CHF without being heart-related. The most note-worthy are obesity, thyroid disease, and diabetes. In Latin America, one noted cause of Congestive Heart Failure is Chaga’s Disease.
Stages of Congestive Heart Failure
As previously mentioned, congestive heart failure is a progressive disease. This means it gets worse as it evolves and more congestive heart failure symptoms appear.
Typically, this stage has no noticeable congestive heart failure symptoms. Despite not realizing, a person may still be at risk for CHF if they have any of the following conditions:
- High blood pressure;
- Coronary artery disease;
- Metabolic syndrome;
- Cardiotoxic drug therapy;
- Alcohol abuse;
- Rheumatic fever;
- Family members with cardiomyopathy;
People at this stage experience systolic left ventricular dysfunction despite not having suffered heart failure. Usually, they are people who have suffered any of the following conditions:
- Heart attack;
- Valve disease;
If someone has any of the following symptoms in addition to systolic heart failure, they are considered to be in stage C:
- Shortness of breath;
- Less ability to exercise.
Patients are at this stage when they have already suffered systolic heart failure accompanied by advanced symptoms that are constantly present. At this stage, advanced treatment is required.
Congestive Heart Failure Treatment
Medication for Congestive Heart Failure
- Angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors (ACE inhibitors): IN order to improve blood flow, ACE inhibitors clear out and open up narrowed blood vessels.
- Beta-blockers: In order to slow down a rapid heart rhythm, doctors will often prescribe beta-blockers to CHF sufferers. If the arrhythmia is due to Chagas Disease, amiodarone is the preferred treatment.
- Diuretics: People who experience liquid retention will normally receive a prescription for diuretics in order to reduce their body’s fluid content.
Congestive Heart Failure Surgery
When dealing with advanced cases of CHF, doctors will sometimes opt for invasive procedures. The most common one is angioplasty, a procedure that is designed to open up blocked arteries.
Congestive Heart Failure Diet
Very often, doctors will urge CHF sufferers to adopt a healthy and balanced diet. Typically, this diet will be low in sodium (normally found in salt) and liquids of all kinds.
Running a Diagnostic
After reading this article, you probably have a good idea of what congestive heart failure is, as well as why it’s so dangerous. It’s important to understand that it’s a condition connecting to other medical issues, so a healthy lifestyle and regular checkups can help prevent it. If you have any of the symptoms that were described, see a doctor immediately. Have you had any experience dealing with this condition? Let us know!
Image from depositphotos.com.