What Is Congestive Heart FailureApproximately 6.2 million adults have congestive heart failure in the united states. Additionally, over 26 million people have heart failure worldwide. Heart failure is an increasing global concern that health care providers are grappling with.

At Heart Wellness Group, we have a full range of specialists that take a personalized, comprehensive approach to accurately diagnose and treat any type or stage of congestive heart failure. We understand that heart failure usually accompanies other chronic conditions like kidney disease, hypertension, or diabetes. This is why we work with different specialists to fully address your condition according to your needs and goals and improve your quality of life. Read on to learn more about congestive heart failure.

What Is Congestive Heart Failure?

Congestive heart failure (CHF), also known as heart failure, occurs when the heart’s muscles cannot pump enough blood to meet your body’s requirements. This does not mean that the heart has stopped working; instead, it is not working as well as it should be.

When your heart cannot pump blood well enough, it moves through the body slowly, causing pressure in the heart and fluid build-up in the lungs. This leads to shortness of breath. Additionally, your body may not get enough nutrients and oxygen as required. The fluid build-up also occurs in the legs, arms, feet, liver, abdomen, ankles, and other body parts, leading to congestion. This is what is described as congestive heart failure. Congestive heart failure is a life-threatening condition that requires immediate medical attention.

What Causes Congestive Heart Failure?

Congestive heart failure typically develops due to long-term medical conditions, but it can also start suddenly after an injury or from various medical conditions. The condition commonly occurs in older people. Multiple conditions can cause congestive heart failure, including and not limited to:

  • Heart attack
  • Cardiomyopathy
  • Kidney disease
  • Diabetes
  • Coronary artery disease (decreased blood flow to the heart muscle)
  • Arrhythmia (abnormal heart rhythms, including atrial fibrillation)
  • Some medications, such as cancer-fighting medications (chemotherapy)
  • Congenital heart disease (heart problems present at birth)
  • Cardiomyopathy (heart muscle damage)
  • High blood pressure (hypertension)
  • Obesity
  • Anemia
  • Tobacco and recreational drug use

What Are the Symptoms of Congestive Heart Failure?

Congestive heart failure symptoms may be mild or severe, they may come and go, or there might be no symptoms at all. Symptoms worsen over time, and they may increase or vary with intensity. Your symptoms may also depend on the severity of the condition and the affected side of the heart. Symptoms commonly include:

  • Shortness of breath when you are climbing stairs or walking up a hill
  • Fatigue or weakness even after rest
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Loss of appetite
  • Frequent need to urinate
  • Irregular or abnormal heartbeat or palpitations
  • Nausea, feeling full, and loss of appetite
  • Difficulty sleeping when lying flat
  • Chronic coughing or wheezing
  • Weight gain
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Sleep apnea
  • Swelling in the veins of your neck
  • Swelling and weight gain from fluid build-up in your lower legs, feet, ankles, or abdomen

Congestive heart failure may cause other problems due to fluid buildup and reduced blood flow, including:

  • Breathing problems from fluid in and around your lungs (also called congestive heart failure)
  • Malnutrition may occur due to the lack of enough blood flow to the stomach or feeding discomfort
  • Other heart conditions, such as sudden cardiac arrest or irregular heartbeat
  • Pulmonary hypertension
  • Kidney or liver damage and liver cirrhosis

How Is Heart Failure Diagnosed?

To diagnose heart failure, your doctor will:

  • Ask questions about your symptoms and medical history
  • Conduct a thorough physical examination
  • Ask about family history of heart disease
  • Examine the veins in your neck
  • Check for fluid build-up in your legs or belly
  • Listen to your lungs for signs of congestion and heart murmurs

Your doctor may also order further diagnostic testing such as:

Blood and urine test: To measure lipids, thyroid function, diabetes, anemia, and to check if there are liver and kidney problems.

Chest X-ray: To show lung and heart size and check for fluid build-up around the lungs and heart

CT imaging: Takes crossectional views of heart and arteries

Electrocardiogram (EKG/ECG): Records electrical impulses in the heart and checks for underlying heart problems

Cardiac MRI: Evaluates heart structure and function

Echocardiography (a cardiac ultrasound): Shows heart movement, valve function, structure, and pumping capacity

Cardiac stress test: Provides information about the likelihood of coronary artery disease by measuring the heart’s level of fitness

Ejection fraction (EF): Measures the heart’s ability to pump with each beat

Cardiac catheterization: Checks for blockages in the coronary artery to confirm whether it is the cause of congestive heart failure

BNP blood (B-type natriuretic peptide) test: Checks severity and prognosis of congestive heart failure

What Is the Treatment for Congestive Heart Failure?

Congestive heart failure has no cure; however, treatment can manage symptoms, slow further damage and improve your quality of life. Treatment depends on the severity and type of congestive heart failure and your underlying condition. Treatment options include:

  • Lifestyle changes include limiting salt and caffeine intake, weight and stress management, quitting smoking and alcohol, and regular exercise. Your doctor and nutritionist will advise accordingly on what to avoid.
  • Medications such as vasodilators, Beta-blockers, diuretics, or tranquilizers.
  • Sleep apnea treatment (if you have the condition)
  • Surgery may be necessary to open blocked arteries or replace heart valves in severe cases. It is performed to:
  • Fix congenital heart defect or heart damage
  • To implant devices, if the left side of your heart is getting weaker such as an implantable cardioverter defibrillator, a biventricular pacemaker, ventricular assist device (VAD), or a total artificial heart
  • A heart transplant is the last resort if your heart failure is not responding to other treatments and is life-threatening.

It is essential to follow your treatment plan, especially if you have another type of heart disease. With medication, surgery, and lifestyle changes, your condition will improve, and you can have a better outlook.

At heart wellness group, we offer personalized treatment plans and specialized care for congestive heart failure. Our compassionate and friendly staff continuously monitors and helps manage your condition to keep your heart stronger. Contact Heart Wellness Group today or schedule an appointment online for more information about how we can help.

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