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Heart Failure – Causes, Risk factors, Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment, Prevention

(Congestive heart failure, Chronic heart failure, Left ventricular dysfunction, Left ventricular failure)

What is Heart Failure

In heart failure, the heart is unable to pump the correct amount of blood throughout the body. Therefore, the blood returns to the veins. Depending on which part of the heart is most affected, excessive fluid buildup can occur in the lungs, feet, and other parts of the body. Heart failure can get worse over time, which can lead to the application of many treatments. For this reason, doctors treat heart failure intensely to prevent it from getting worse.

Heart Failure Causes

The main causes of heart failure are the following:

  1. Coronary artery disease
  2. Myocardial infarction
  3. Other common causes include:
  4. Problems with the heart valves because of:
  5. Rheumatic heart disease
  6. Bacterial endocarditis
  7. Birth defects
  8. Atherosclerosis calcium deposits
  9. High blood pressure
  10. Diabetes

Other less common causes include the following:

  • Cardiomyopathy (weakening, damage to the heart muscle due to various causes)
  • Some medications
  • Abnormal heartbeats (ar)
  • Hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid)
  • Amyloidosis
  • Renal or hepatic insufficiency
  • Thiamine deficiency (vitamin B1)
  • Heart Failure Symptoms
  • Symptoms include:
  • Shortness of breath: initially only with activity, then it evolves due to lack of breath at rest
  • Unexplained weight gain
  • Inflammation of feet, ankles or legs
  • Need to sleep leaning on something
  • Fatigue, weakness
  • Wheezing
  • Cough: can be dry and rough or sound wet; may have pink and foamy sputum
  • Frequent urination, especially at night
  • Abdominal pain

Heart Failure Risk factors

Risk factors include:

  • Advanced age
  • Obesity
  • Excessive consumption of salt and fat
  • Excessive · intake
  • Sex: male
  • Race: black
  • Smoking
  • In pregnancy
  • High fever
  • Severe infection
  • Chronic lung disease (emphysema)
  • Chemotherapy

Heart Failure Diagnosis

The doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. You will also have a physical examination of the following items:

  • Auscultate the lungs and the heart with a stethoscope.
  • Examine the neck veins.
  • Palpate the abdomen for sensitivity and inflammation of the liver.
  • Check the feet, ankles and legs to see if they are inflamed.

Tests may include:

  1. Blood tests: to look for certain indicators in the blood that help the doctor determine what is happening to his heart.
  2. Urinalysis: to look for certain indicators in the urine that help the doctor determine what is happening to his heart.
  3. Electrocardiogram (ECG): records the cardiac activity by measuring the electrical currents that pass through the heart muscle.
  4. Echocardiogram: uses high frequency sound waves (ultrasound) to examine the size, shape, function, and movement of the heart.
  5. Stress test by exercise: it registers the electrical activity of the heart during a greater physical activity (it can be combined with an echocardiogram or a nuclear resonance).  If you can not exercise, you may be given a medication. This medication simulates physical exercise.
  6. Magnetic Resonance: uses radioactive material (such as thallium) to highlight areas with decreased flow.
    Coronary angiography-uses a catheter, contrast fluid, and x-rays to detect abnormalities (eg, narrowing, blockage) in the arteries and to evaluate how the heart works.

Heart Failure Treatment

Treatment of underlying conditions

Heart failure can be caused by another condition. Treatment of this other condition should improve heart failure or prevent it from getting worse.

Changes in lifestyle

The following lifestyle changes can help treat the symptoms of heart failure and delay its progression:

  1. Avoid alcohol.
  2. If you smoke, stop it .
  3. Lose weight if needed.
  4. Eat a healthy diet Your diet should be low in fat and salt and high in fiber.
  5. Ask your doctor if you should restrict fluids. Find out how much salt and liquid is right for you.
  6. Start an exercise program with guidance from your doctor. Aerobic training can help improve the level of physical activity and quality of life. You should aim to exercise for 20 to 30 minutes at least five times a week. You can start slowly and move forward to reach this goal. Talk to your doctor before starting an exercise program.
  7. Control your weight every morning. This will allow you to quickly detect if you are retaining fluid. Call your doctor if you suddenly gain weight (three or more pounds in a day, five or more pounds in a week, or any amount you were told to report). The best time to weigh yourself is before breakfast and after urinating. It should be weighed using always the same type of clothes, without shoes and on the same scale. This will let you know that your weight is accurate.

Heart Failure Medicines

Your doctor is more likely to prescribe a combination of medications, such as:

  • ACE inhibitors or their alternatives to widen blood vessels
  • Digoxin (also called digitalis) to help the heart pump
  • Beta-blockers to decrease heart rate and reduce blood pressure
  • Diuretics to eliminate excess fluid in the body
  • Nitrates to dilate blood vessels

You may also be given medications for the following:

  • Anticoagulate blood (eg, aspirin, warfarin [eg, Coumadin])
  • Help control chest pain (for example, nitroglycerin)
  • Help control cholesterol levels
  • Help control high blood pressure

If heart failure gets worse, you may need to use medical devices that help your heart pump blood properly. If you have heart failure, follow your doctor’s instructions.

How to Prevent Heart Failure

The best way to prevent heart failure is to reduce the risk of the following:

  1. Coronary artery disease
  2. High blood pressure
  3. Diabetes
  4. Take these steps to reduce the risk:
  5. Begin a safe exercise program with the advice of the doctor.
  6. If you smoke, stop it.
  7. Restrict alcohol consumption.
  8. Lose weight if needed. When you have lost weight, maintain a healthy weight.
  9. Eat a healthy diet The DASH diet, in particular, can reduce the risk of high blood pressure and heart failure, especially in women. The DASH diet is:
    • Rich in fruits, vegetables and low-fat farm products
    • Low in saturated fats, total fats and cholesterol
    • Eat whole grains for breakfast. In addition to the other healthy habits, this can reduce the risk of heart failure.
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