The upper chambers of the heart are known as atria and the lower chambers the ventricles. The ventricles both right and left located in the heart pump blood with the contraction of the muscles. High blood pressure, infections or toxins weaken the muscles of the ventricles leading to an abnormal pumping of the blood. The process of blood flow slows down with weak muscles where the blood moves back to the heart through the veins causing a congestion. A congestive heart failure is a condition where the heart fails in pumping sufficient blood with oxygen to the rest of the body.
Congestive heart failure is categorized as the following:
Systolic heart failure: In this case the contraction of the heart becomes weak and reduced. The inability of the heart to pump sufficient blood results in systolic heart failure. The ejection fraction is calculated to find out the intensity of blood with the heart beat. It shows a decrease in the ejection fraction of less than fifty percent.
Diastolic heart failure: In this case the contraction is normal but the problem occurs while relaxing. The muscle becomes so stiff that it cannot fill the heart with blood and sends it back into the lungs. The fluid gets collected in the feet, legs and lungs leading to diastolic heart failure. However the ejection fraction is quite normal in diastolic heart failure. Such failure is usually found in older patients of eighties or in patients with high blood pressure.
- Extreme tiredness
- Swelling in the legs, ankles and abdomen
- Frequent urination
- Pain in the abdomen
- Loss of appetite
- Unable to exercise
- Difficulty in performing activities
- Sleep less nights
The most common reasons for the occurrence of congestive heart failure are hypertension and high blood pressure. The other causes might include coronary artery disease, heart attack occurring in the past, disease in the heart valves and congenital heart defects. Viral infections making the heart muscles stiff and thyroid problems might also cause congestive failure. A weakened heart muscle might also lead to this failure. Exposure to alcohol or cocaine may be one of the causes. Sometimes serious arrhythmic heart beat might also lead to congestion in the heart. In some cases, the failure might occur due to collection of fluid in between the heart muscle and thick layer of pericardium near the heart without allowing the heart to fill blood. Patients suffering from cardiomyopathy or HIV might also experience CHF.
Congestive heart failure need utmost attention at its diagnosis as it has the similar symptoms of bronchitis, pneumonia and asthma. The history of diabetes, hypertension, and prior heart attack or artery diseases of a particular patient normally suggests the symptoms of congestive failure. A careful detection of physical symptoms like swelling in the legs, ankles, veins of the neck and sounds while breathing can diagnose the disease instantly. The next step leads to a chest X-ray which helps as the initial stage of diagnosis. Electrocardiogram checks the rhythm of the heart. Blood test may also be conducted to test the cell count. BNP or B-type natriuretic peptid level tests the level of blood. An ultrasound sound test, echocardiogram may also figure outlining problem with heart beat and other cardiac structures. MUGA is a multiple-gated acquisition scanning to observe the pumping effect of the ventricles. In cases of severity, a biopsy of the heart tissue may be useful in diagnosing the disease.
The diagnosis of congestive heart failure must be immediately followed by the treatment to prevent advance stage of the disease. There is a high demand in transforming the quality of living in such patients. Consumption of salt and fluids need to be minimized. Angioplasty is suggested for patients with heart failure due to coronary artery disease. Cardiac resynchronization therapy is the best part of the treatment where in a biventricular pacemaker is inserted into the heart one in the coronary vein and the other close to the right ventricle to check the frequency of heart beat and to co-ordinate the contraction of the ventricles. However, medications suggested by the physician would help in relieving the symptoms of the disease with respect to physiological difficulties.
In spite of the drastic improvement in the field of heart surgeries and treatment, a few cases of mortal deaths are to be taken into consideration. The serious complications caused due to heart failure are irregular heart beats and collection of fluid in the lungs. A rapid weight loss occurs in such patients. The disability in pumping the blood might affect the function of the kidneys. Congestion might persist as fluid builds up and collects in other parts of the body like legs, feet and abdomen. Patients might experience the worst stage of symptoms due to depression. Congestive heart failure might give rise to a series of heart attacks with strenuous exertion.
Willow bark and Hawthorn are suggested as herbal treatment for heart failures. Nevertheless, it is often advisable to take the suggestion of the physician before taking it.
Changes in lifestyle would enhance the improvement of the patient along with the medications suggested by the physician. Using less salt in the diet would control fluid increase in the body. Drinking less fluids and restricting the quantity of water would also help. Simple exercises without much exertion would make a person active. It is better for people with obesity to reduce weight improve their mobility. Quitting smoking would be the best suggestion given to the patients with congestive heart failure.
A few preventive measures often help patients to relieve themselves from congestive heart failure. Keeping blood pressure and cholesterol levels under control would serve the purpose to the maximum extent. Diagnosis of heart diseases at the initial stages would prevent further advancement.