Congestive Heart Failure – Causes, Diagnosis, and Treatment Options
Diagnosis & Prevention
Congestive heart failure is a disease characterized by a problem that affects the pumping power of the heart muscles. It is a chronic progressive disease and is also referred to as heart failure. Congestive heart failure (CHF) refers to the stage in which there is a build-up of fluid around the heart. This causes an ineffectiveness in pumping blood.
The heart has four chambers. The lower half of the heart has two ventricles which pump blood to the body’s organs. The upper half of the heart, however, consists of two atria which receive the blood circulated back from the rest of the body. The ventricles cannot pump enough blood to the body due to congestive heart failure. This leads to blood and other fluids filling up the liver, lungs, lower body, and the abdomen. Treatment for congestive heart failure must be done immediately as the disease could be life-threatening.
Congestive heart failure may arise from other health conditions that directly impact the cardiovascular system. It is important to get check-ups on a yearly basis to determine the possibility of the onset of any such disease. Lowering the risks which cause heart health problems can go a long way in ensuring one does not develop the disease. Listed below are a few common causes of congestive heart failure.
- Hypertension leads to the narrowing of the arteries. This makes blood flow much more difficult and can result in the onset of congestive heart failure in the long run. Consider changing the diet if one is suffering from this disease to restore normality or to keep high blood pressure at bay.
- Valve conditions can directly impact the heart and could lead to its failure. The heart valves regulate the flow of blood to and from the heart by opening and closing the valves. When the vales do not open or close properly, the ventricles of the heart may be forced to work harder in order to pump blood to the body.
- Other diseases like obesity, thyroid disease, and diabetes can also lead to the development of congestive heart failure. While heart-related diseases directly contribute to congestive heart failure, these unrelated diseases can also lead to its onset. Allergic reactions and severe infections can also lead to the development of the disease. Immediate treatment for congestive heart failure is, therefore, essential.
Identifying the symptoms of congestive heart failure may prove to be quite difficult as they can be commonly misunderstood for a respiratory infection. The symptoms of congestive heart failure could include poor feeding habits, a difficulty in breathing, and excessive sweating. A low blood pressure may also be indicative of the disease. One may feel that their heart is beating rapidly through the chest wall. One should visit a doctor immediately if they are experiencing these symptoms and get diagnosed for the same. Safe measures go a long way in staying healthy and preventing further damage. Early treatments for congestive heart failure are crucial to boosting the chances of survival.
Once the symptoms have been reported to the doctor, the doctor may refer the sufferer to a cardiologist or a heart specialist. The cardiologist will perform a physical exam to determine the extent of the damage to the heart. This will involve detecting abnormal heart rhythms by listening to the heart with a stethoscope. Diagnostic tests may also be done to confirm an initial diagnosis. This may include examining the blood chambers, valves, and vessels. There are a number of tests available to diagnose heart conditions. These tests measure different things so the doctor may recommend a few tests to get a working idea of the situation at hand. Once the individual has been diagnosed with the disease, the doctor will recommend the right congestive heart failure treatment option that is best suitable for the sufferer.
Fortunately, there are a variety of medications available to treat congestive heart failure. These include the following:
- ACE inhibitors
ACE inhibitors open up narrow blood vessels and improve the blood flow. One can also try vasodilators if one cannot tolerate taking ACE inhibitors.
Beta-blockers are handy when it comes to reducing blood pressure. They also help slow down rapid heart rhythms.
Diuretics are used to reduce the body’s fluid content. Congestive heart failure can cause the body to retain more fluid than it needs and diuretics are an essential part of the treatment for congestive heart failure.
If these treatment options do not help improve the situation, the doctor may recommend medications or undergoing a surgery. The treatment options will be prescribed based on how early the congestive heart failure condition is diagnosed and how advanced the situation at hand is. Other health conditions, like high blood pressure and diabetes, can complicate matters. Therefore, one should talk to their doctor and choose a treatment plan which suits their needs best. It is important to remember that the earlier the treatment, the higher is the probability of surviving.