Congestive Heart Failure (CHF) more commonly known as Heart Failure or Cardiac Failure is a medical condition. It happens when our heart is not being able to pump sufficiently. This causes an imbalance to maintain the flow of blood. The body, in turn, stops responding to its basic requirement of blood flow. A very early sign could be excessive tiredness. Staying up till late at night could be a wake-up call. Congestive heart failure symptoms should not be ignored especially because they are easy to diagnose. Here, we will tell you all about this condition and how to take measures of care.
The statistics of heart failure
In the year 2015, reportedly, this fatal condition affected around 40 million people worldwide. Overall, 2% of the adult population has heart failure. Around the age of 65, the percentage increases to 6-10. What’s more alarming is rates could rise over time.
The degree of risk is very similar to certain cancers. In England, this medical condition is responsible for 5 percent emergency hospital admission. Heart failure has been bothering people since the ancient age. The Ebers papyrus had mention of it back in 1550 BC.
Congestive Heart Failure Symptoms in Children
Yes, even children suffer from this medical condition. The symptoms could include:
- Lack of appetite: The next time you observe an uncanny lack of appetite in your kid, don’t delay. This is just a possibility, but it could be amongst congestive Heart failure symptoms. But, don’t worry; an early diagnosis could save you from a thousand hazards.
- Excessive sweating: The chances of cardiac failure in children are wafer-thin. But, excessive sweating in children is also not common. The next time you see your child sweating profusely, report it to the doctor. Who knows, this could be a sign of heart failure.
- Breathing difficulty: This kind of difficulty should not be in children. If you get the slightest hint, be cautious! Take concrete steps very fast.
These signs are heavily misunderstood. Parents shrug them off thinking of a possibility of mild infections. But, the reality could very well be otherwise. A stunted growth coupled with low blood pressure could be signs of cardiac failure. At times, one feels a resting infant’s rapid heart-beat. All these may sum up to a very serious condition.
Types of cardiac failure
Left-sided Cardiac Failure is a more common type of failure. This condition occurs when the right ventricle fails to pump blood to the body. As this condition advances, there could be a fluid build-up in the lungs. It is at this stage that the condition worsens. People start to get acute shortness of breath. Further, there are two common kinds of left-sided failure. Let us shed some light on them:
- Systolic heart failure: This happens as the left ventricle is completely unable to contract normally. This reduces the force to push the blood into proper circulation. Without the vigor of force, the heart cannot pump properly.
- Diastolic failure: The condition is also called diastolic dysfunction. This occurs when the heart-muscle in our left ventricle gets very stiff. It loses its ability to relax. This, in turn, causes the heart to stop filling between the beats.
- Right-sided heart failure: This occurs as our right ventricle has difficulties to pump blood into the lungs. Blood concentrates in blood-vessels. This causes a condition called fluid retention in lower extremes, abdomen & all vital organs.
Also, it is heavily possible that left-sided heart failure happens simultaneously. Usually, the condition initiates on the left side. Gradually, it travels in our right direction, if left untreated.
Congestive heart failure stages
With the medical condition progressing to advanced stages, chances of survival diminish. Let us give a proper account of the four stages- Stage A, Stage B, Stage C, and Stage D:
People suffering from Stage A of heart failure have higher chances of survival. The dysfunction has not yet advanced too far. The heart is still able to pump blood to the lungs and major organs. And, people in Stage A, do not have chronic high blood pressure. But, they could develop conditions like diabetes mellitus. They might even suffer from coronary artery disease.
People at Stage A do not have any problem with the heart’s structure. They rarely experience congestive heart failure symptoms.
Structural heart problems start to show up at this very stage. Pumping activities start to reduce at Stage B. this leads to an enlargement of the left ventricle.
This might very well result from any previous heart ailment. However, people at Stage B mostly remain asymptomatic.
At this stage, the condition can be linked with structural heart problems. Stage C induces conditions like breathing difficulty or severe fatigue. The symptoms are primarily due to squeezing functions of our right ventricle. The dysfunctional pumping chamber is rather common at Stage C.
At Stage C, one might stop to show any symptoms at all. This happens when one’s taking treatment for pre-existing conditions.
Stage D has very advanced structural heart conditions. People at this advanced stage start to exhibit symptoms even while at rest.
This stage is the most severe. It requires advanced or specialized treatment. This may require cushions like mechanical circulatory support. Also, a continual inotropic infusion becomes imperative. This advanced condition makes our heart squeeze very hard. The condition often needs cardiac transplant and hospice care.
Congestive heart failure causes
- Heart-attack & coronary artery disease- Coronary artery disease is the most prevalent form of heart ailment. This oft leads to cardiac failure. This coronary artery disease results from fatty deposits in the arteries. These deposits lead to reduced blood flow and may cause heart failure.
- Hypertension- When the blood pressure is high, the heart finds difficulty in pumping and circulating blood. Over time, muscles become very stiff. The pumping activity starts to lessen even further.
- Faulty valves- The valves check the flow of blood. It monitors whether or not the flow is rightly directed. An infection in valves forces the heart to work even harder. This can weaken the heart eventually.
- Damage to muscles- Muscle damage gives rise to several heart diseases, thereby weakening it. Here, certain genetic factors play a crucial role.
- Myocarditis- This condition causes inflammation of the heart muscles. Myocarditis is the resultant of infections caused by the virus. This can often lead to left-sided congestive heart failure.
- Heart defects you were born with- Congenital heart defect is very serious and needs due care. This happens when chambers have not formed correctly. The healthy parts are put to strain and this may cause heart-failures.
- Abnormal rhythms- Abnormal rhythms like fast-beating even during the resting period are undesirable. We must take concrete steps to correct this. Often, slow beating also causes heart-failures.
Acute Congestive Heart Failure Symptoms
The acute symptoms of heart failure are as follows:
- Difficulty in breathing: People with this condition often struggle with breathing. Fluid accumulation in the lungs may be the cause of the difficulty in breathing.
- Unexplained cough: Coughing and wheezing are acute symptoms of congestive heart failure. In severe cases, the mucus starts to become pink. Blood-stained mucus could be a wake-up call.
- Weight gain: A rapid gain in weight could block the valve of our heart.
- Tiredness: Often well-rested people experience fatigue. Pay proper heed to this kind of symptom.
- Nausea: Lack of appetite may accompany nausea.
- Dizziness and light-headedness: One may often feel numb due to an inadequate supply of blood.
- Swelling: Swelling undermines the movement. This happens because of fluid-retention. Also, it affects the proper functioning of vital organs.
A cardiologist performs several tests to confirm if it is heart failure. Listening to beats, checking fluid retention and valve monitoring are certain physical tests. Other diagnostic tests are as follows-
- Electrocardiogram- This records our heart’s electric rhythm.
- Echocardiogram- This is the ultrasound test to detect if an entity has a faulty valve. This even determines if our heart muscle isn’t relaxing properly.
- Stress tests- This test tells about levels of cardiac-stress.
- Blood tests- A doctor may prescribe several blood tests to look for certain infections. Blood tests also report the functioning of the kidney. Such tests reveal brain natriuretic peptide.
- MRI- This provides insight on structural heart changes. This even reports scarring. High-resolution images identify such changes.
- Catheterization- This helps physicians to identify heart blockages. Cardiac catheterization checks blood flow and pressure simultaneously.
Long-term congestive heart failure prognosis
The prognosis of congestive heart failure greatly varies between people. One’s likelihood of survival is different from another’s. Largely speaking, you can expect a better prognosis if congestive heart failure symptoms are detected early on. Early detection leads to almost normal life expectancy. Prognosis is greatly dependent on age factors. There is a wide acceptance that people with early diagnosis live longer. Elderly people have a difficult prognosis. It is not very common that elderly people with advanced symptoms live too long. They do not go past one year after the diagnosis. Invasive procedures are not plausible after a certain period.
How could we prevent congestive heart failure?
Congestive Heart Failure Symptoms may range from mild to moderate. Things may start to worsen if kept unmanaged. A better lifestyle strategy reduces risks of this fatal condition. Here, we will take a glance on prevention of cardiac failure:
- Maintaining body weight- Weight issues put a strain on the heart muscle. So risks of failure start to intensify.
- Exercise- American Health Association recommends at least an hour of daily exercise. This averts many risks of cardiac failure. Speak to your doctor at length about this.
- Managing stress- Relaxation techniques, meditation & therapy are ways to relieve stress. How a person manages stress has a deep impact on overall wellbeing. Too much stress if often liked with severe heart damage.
- Eating healthy- keep a close check on what you eat regularly. Regular food intake should include whole grains, foods low in sodium and cholesterol. Never forget to consume around 2 liters of fluid daily. Consult a medical expert to know more about fluid and sodium intake.
- Monitoring blood pressure- One can easily monitor BP with regular check-ups. The bright side is, there is a modern range of home BP monitors available in the market.
- Vaccinations- Be certain to remain vaccinated against diseases like pneumonia and influenza.
Avoid things like alcohol, smoking, and drugs to shield your heart against damage.
Congestive heart failure treatment
Heart failure is often caused by severe damages. A serious medical condition like heart failure cannot be cured overnight. Loved ones and caregivers play an important role in how things progress.
Treatment plans include
- Lifestyle changes
- Surgical procedures
- Ongoing care
- Changes reported to experts
- Help extended by caregivers
Clinical trials are studies to determine changes for the better. Discovering new medications become possible with clinical trials. Also, the side effects of new medications become certain. Regardless of the approach, follow every meticulous direction given by your physician. Make changes in your diet regimen for better longevity.
What diet to follow if you’re dealing with cardiac-failure?
Make sure to consume low sodium diet- Sodium-rich diets lead to excessive fluid retention. The body starts to cling onto fluids. Flushing out excess water while urinating becomes a problem. This causes difficulty in breathing too. Fluid-retention is rather life-threatening.
- Be creative in cooking- Choose to add less spices and oil. Instead, add herbs, lemon, fruit juices, pepper and vinegar to bring more flavors.
- No ketchup and dips- Once detected with Congestive Heart Failure, never take your diet lightly. Stop consuming those salt-loaded sugary ketchup. Things like mustard sauce, mayonnaise and marinades must not be a part of your diet.
- Check for ingredients- Read labels of food products. This is very essential to this medical condition in check.
- Canned food- Packaged, processed and canned foods should not be a part of your regular food intake.
- Portion control- Cardiac failure makes it difficult to breathe. Physical activities are often restricted. As a result, folks gain weight. It is a requirement to control calorie intake. This will relieve breathing issues a great deal.
Cardiac failure symptoms aren’t too difficult to recognize. Be cautious and take concrete measures. A good lifestyle coupled with healthy food extends help. Also important is the role of caregivers. To know more consult an expert medical practitioner.