Despite the way it sounds the term “Heart Failure” simple means that your heart beat isn’t pumping blood as well as it should. Heart failure doesn’t mean your hear has stopped working or that you are having a heart attack (but people with heart failure often had a heart attack in the past), Heart failure is also called Congestive heart failure of CHF
“Congestive” means fluid is building up in the body because the heat isn’t pumping properly
The common symptoms are Shortness of breath (perhaps while walking or climbing stairs), Shortness of breath when lying down flat in bed, Waking up in night following breathlessness, General tiredness or weakness, swelling of the legs usually around ankles and feet, Rapid weight gain (1 or 2 pounds a day for 3 days in a row), Chronic cough, a racing heartbeat even while resting.
So if you have these symptoms especially if you have had a heart problem before your need to contact your doctor immediately
What tests will the patient need?
If heart failure is suspected based on the medical history symptoms and physical examination the following tests are done.
ECG: To detect abnormal rhythm and evidence of heart attack in the past.
Echo is often used to make sure of the diagnosis. An echo is a test that causes no pain. A probe is moved across the surface of the chest. It sends sound waves that allow getting pictures of the heart, this will tell how well the heart is pumping and how your heart valves are working.
BNP-A blood test-levels are high in patients with heart failure
Cardiac catheterization or coronary angiography to show whether any of the arteries in your heart are narrowed or blocked
Much can be done to improve the heart’s pumping and to treat the symptoms, address the precipitating causes of heart failure and later address the underlying disease.
Take your medicines even if you feel well and watch for changes in your symptoms
Supportive Treatment Include
Diet – Reduce the amount of salt you eat and the amount the of fluid you drink
Alcohol- Decrease alcohol consumption, for women not more than once drink per day and for men’s not more than two (excess consumption can lead to cardiomyopathy.)
Exercise- if you are overweight, your heart needs to work extra hard to keep up with your body needs
Check with your doctor before taking any new medicines
Medicines commonly used are ACE inhibitors which help to dilate your arteries and lower blood pressure, improving blood flow
Diuretics are often called “water pills” they make the patient urinate more often and help keep fluid form building up in your body, they decrease the fluid that collects in the lungs and this helps you to breathe better
Beta blockers- beta blockers can improve blood pressures and heart rate control
Digoxin (also called digitalis) helps the heart pump better
You might need to take other medicines of you have other problems
Other Treatment include
Devices to help the heart pump with more force to beat at the right rhythm – CRT or CRTD
Surgery to improve blood flow to the heart or replace the heart (HEART TRANSPLANTATION)
Frequency of visits to the doctor:
At first you may need to be seen often as every week to check how you are adjusting to the medicine. Once you are feeling better, you may need to be seen less often.
“Quit alcohol and smoking it’s never too late, just begin to love yourself.”
Dr. Alluri Srinivas Raju
MD, DNB, FSCAI