Congestive heart failure (also known as heart failure) is a chronic condition where the blood flow through the heart becomes restricted because of congested veins or weakened muscle walls; This leads to a buildup of fluid and blood in the lungs and causes shortness of breath, dizziness, and fatigue.
Coronary artery disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes are common causes of heart failure. This condition can worsen with time, so treatment is crucial to help manage symptoms. Treatment includes addressing the underlying cause of your heart failure, medications, and lifestyle changes.
What are the symptoms of congestive heart failure?
You may have one or all of the symptoms of heart failure or none at all. Heart failure symptoms can range from moderate to severe, and they might come and go.
- Swollen ankles, legs, and abdomen
- Nausea and appetite loss
- Weakness and fatigue
- Fast weight gain
- Persistent coughing or wheezing
- Dizziness or disorientation
- Fast or irregular heartbeats
What are the causes of congestive heart failure?
The two most common types of CHF are “diastolic” and “systolic” heart failure. Diastolic heart failure occurs when there is an abnormality in the relaxation phase of the heart’s cycle. In its early stages, diastolic heart failure may not be apparent. Symptoms worsen as the disease progresses.
As the heart fills with blood after contracting, it begins to relax again so that more blood can enter the ventricles. When this process fails, blood does not completely fill the chambers of the heart. These underfilled chambers then become stretched and enlarged. Left untreated, this eventually causes the left atrium and left ventricle to enlarge and fail. Systolic heart failure occurs when the heart cannot pump enough blood into the arteries. This happens when the muscles of the heart do not function properly.
Many conditions that damage or weaken the heart muscle can lead to congestive heart failure, including:
- Coronary artery disease: This disease affects the arteries that deliver blood and oxygen to the heart, causing reduced blood flow to the heart muscle and depriving the heart of receiving enough blood, oxygen, and nutrients.
- Heart attacks: A heart attack occurs when a coronary artery is clogged, cutting off blood supply to the heart muscle. When a heart attack occurs, the heart muscle is damaged, resulting in a scarred area that does not function properly.
- High blood pressure: If you have high blood pressure, your heart has to work harder than usual to pump blood throughout your body, causing your heart muscle to become too weak or stiff to pump blood effectively with time.
- Malfunctioning heart valves: The heart’s valves, which keep blood flowing in the right direction, are forced to work harder when a valve is damaged, weakening the heart over time.
- Congenital heart defects: If your heart and its valves haven’t grown properly, the healthy parts of your heart will have to work harder to pump blood, potentially leading to heart failure.
- Heart muscle damage: Heart muscle damage can be caused by various factors, including certain disorders, infections, heavy alcohol consumption, and chemotherapy drugs.
- Long-term disorders: Disorders such as diabetes and HIV can put too much strain on the heart and eventually lead to chronic heart failure.
How is congestive heart failure diagnosed?
During your consultation, the cardiologist will review your medical and family history, ask about your symptoms, and perform a physical examination. They may also order several tests to detect the cause and severity of your condition and determine the appropriate treatment plan. These tests may involve the following:
- Chest X-ray to see if the heart is enlarged or if there is lung damage.
- Blood tests to assess kidney and thyroid function and cholesterol and anemia levels.
- Electrocardiogram (ECG) to measure the electrical activity of your heart (frequency and duration of your heartbeats).
- Echocardiogram (ultrasound image of the heart) to check your heart movement, anatomy, and function.
- Ejection fraction (EF) to assess how well the heart pumps blood with each beat.
- Stress test to examine your heart’s health while it is working. It may be performed while wearing a mask that monitors how well the heart and lungs receive oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide.
How is congestive heart failure treated?
There is no cure for congestive heart failure, but treatment can alleviate symptoms and slow the progression of the disease. A treatment plan may include the following factors:
Lifestyle changes, such as quitting smoking, exercising regularly, following a healthy diet, and losing excess weight.
- Vasodilators: dilate blood arteries, improve blood flow, and lower blood pressure.
- Diuretics (water tablets): help you urinate more regularly and prevent fluid retention.
- ACE inhibitors lower blood pressure, improve blood flow, and reduce heart strain.
- Beta-blockers lower blood pressure and heart rate and improve heart function and life expectancy.
- Coronary bypass surgery: This surgery is performed if your arteries are blocked and involves taking a healthy blood vessel from your leg, arm, or chest and connecting it below and above the arteries to improve blood flow to your heart muscle.
- Heart valve replacement. This surgery is performed if you have a malfunctioning heart valve. It involves reconnecting the valve flaps or reducing excess valve tissue, allowing the leaflets to shut securely.
- An implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD). This device is implanted under the skin of your chest to regulate your heart rhythm.
Schedule your appointment at Novomed today!
To learn more about this condition or to book an appointment with our expert cardiologist in Dubai, call us toll-free at 8006686 or click the live chat icon at the bottom of the screen.