Symptoms of Congestive Heart Failure and Treatment Options

There are several types of heart failure. Congestive heart failure refers to the condition in which the heart doesn’t pump blood as well as it should. The fact is that heart failure doesn’t always mean the heart stops beating. It can be impeded from doing its job in several ways. The term “congestive” comes from blood backing up into, or congesting, the lungs and tissues. The liver, abdomen, lower extremities, as well as the lungs, can fill with fluid, as a result. As blood flow slows, swelling, called edema can occur in the legs and ankles. These areas or others can swell as the blood backs up in the body’s tissues.
Pulmonary edema refers to the accumulation of fluid in the lungs. Shortness of breath and respiratory distress, especially when an individual is resting, results and can be uncomfortable and dangerous.

Causes

Certain conditions, such as narrowed arteries in the heart (coronary artery disease) or high blood pressure, gradually leave the heart too weak or stiff to fill and pump efficiently. When congestive heart failure occurs, the main pumping chambers (the ventricles) may become stiff and not fill properly between beats. In some cases of heart failure, the heart muscle may become damaged and weakened, and the ventricles stretch (dilate) to the point that blood can’t pumped efficiently throughout the body. Over time, the heart no longer keeps up with the normal demands placed on it to pump blood to the rest of the body.

In addition to coronary artery disease or high blood pressure, the stress on the heart caused by heart attack, heart valve issues and heart muscle damage (cardiomyopathy) can lead to congestive heart failure. Genetic disorders, abnormal heart rhythm (arrhythmia) and inflammation of the heart (myocarditis) also contribute. Other conditions or illnesses, such as diabetes and use of alcohol and tobacco, can also increase the possibility of congestive heart failure.

Symptoms

In addition to shortness of breath while resting, shortness of breath during physical exertion is a symptom of congestive heart failure. Edema in the ankles, legs or feet, and rapid or irregular heartbeat could also signal the condition. A reduced ability to exercise, persistent cough or wheezing with white or pink blood tinged phlegm are also symptoms. Other signs include the increased need to urinate at night, a swelling of the abdomen and sudden weight gain from fluid retention. Sometimes written off as a gastronomic issue, a lack of appetite or nausea could also be symptomatic of congestive heart failure. Unusual mental tendencies, such as experiencing less alertness than usual or having difficulty concentrating are also signs that congestive heart failure could be occurring.

It is very important to take sudden, severe shortness of breath and coughing up pink foamy mucus, seriously. Those issues and chest pain are also congestive heart failure symptoms.

Treatment options

Congestive heart failure is treated in several ways. Medication, surgery, and heart valve repair or replacement may be the best option.

Medication may include ACE inhibitors that that widen blood vessels to lower blood pressure, improve blood flow and decrease the workload of the heart. Beta Blockers slow the heart rate, reduce blood pressure and may limit or reverse some damage to the heart. Diuretics cause more frequent urination and keep fluid from collecting in the body.

Surgery or medical devices may be recommended by the physician. Coronary bypass surgery allows blood to flow more freely to the heart. Heart valve repair or replacement deals directly with a faulty heart valve, eliminating faulty flow.

An ICD, similar to a pacemaker could be installed, as could a biventricular pacemaker that sends timed electrical impulses to both of the heart’s lower chambers so that they pump in a more efficient, coordinated manner. More intense surgery could involve heart pumps or transplants.

It is only after thorough testing and evaluation that the cardiologist and the patient decide which treatment is best suitable.

To learn more about congestive heart failure and treatment options, log on to vascularhealthclinics.org.