Congestive Heart Failure
Congestive heart failure (sometimes referred to as only “heart failure”) is a condition where the heart is failing to pump blood to a satisfactory level. Therefore, oxygen and nutrients are not reaching the different parts of your body fast enough.
Causes of Heart Failure
Coronary artery disease – This disease causes plaque to accumulate on the inner walls of the arteries, constricting blood flow. As this plaque continues to grow, it can cause blood clots that lead to congestive heart failure.
Heart Attack – Also known by its scientific name, myocardial infarction, heart attacks occur when the heart is unable to get oxygen because the blood flow is blocked by a clot. The inability for the heart to receive oxygen can cause the muscle of the heart receiving blood from the blocked artery to die.
Cardiomyopathy – Cardiomyopathy describes diseases affecting the heart muscle in which this muscle behaves abnormally. There are multiple forms of cardiomyopathy, some of which are genetic, while others are developed.
High Blood Pressure – Also referred to as hypertension, high blood pressure describes when the force of blood pushing against the artery walls is greater than normal. This can damage your arteries, leading to conditions and situations such as coronary artery disease that cause heart failure.
Symptoms of heart failure are sometimes constant, but at other times are intermittent. They can be mild or aggressive. Symptoms can include:
- Fatigue, dizziness, weakness
- Rapid/Irregular heartbeat
- Lung congestion
Types of Congestive Heart Failure
Systolic dysfunction (or systolic heart failure) – In this type of heart failure, the heart muscle is not contracting with enough force. Therefore, a sufficient amount of oxygen-rich blood is failing to reach the rest of the body.
Diastolic dysfunction – In this type of heart failure, the heart muscle is contracting with a sufficient amount of force, but the ventricles are not relaxing correctly. This prevents a sufficient amount of blood from entering the heart.
In order to diagnose congestive heart failure your doctor will examine a number of factors, including your medical history and current heart-related medical issues. They will also perform a physical exam as well as medical tests, which may include blood tests, x-rays, EKGs, and stress tests.
The intent of treatment for heart failure is to prevent the progression of the disease. In addition, treatment attempts to manage symptoms, allowing the victim to live as close to a normal life as possible. Congestive heart failure requires a lifetime of treatment for this chronic condition. Treatments can include lifestyle changes, medications, and surgical options, depending on your exact condition. Surgical options in particular can possibly alleviate the underlying causes of the heart failure, while a combination of medications are usually prescribed to manage your symptoms and promote proper heart function.