Most people are scared when they hear about “congestive heart failure,” especially if a loved one or, even worse, they have the condition. Even though doctors consider this condition serious, its life-threatening effects can be controlled or put off for many years if caught early.
What does congestive heart failure mean, and why does it happen?
The heart’s main job is to pump blood to the lungs to get oxygen. Once the oxygenated blood returns to nature, it is pumped out into the blood vessel system and sent to the other parts of the body.
Heart failure happens when the heart can’t pump blood out fast enough or can’t take in enough blood. This type of heart condition occurs when the heart doesn’t pump as well as it should, so blood and other fluids don’t move around the body as well as they should and start to build up.
Some of the many factors that can lead to congestive heart failure-
Coronary artery disease (CAD), diabetes, or infections can weaken or stiffen the heart muscles. Conditions that need a level of oxygen the heart can’t supply continuously high blood pressure, which can make the heart muscles thicker, constant exposure to toxins like tobacco, cocaine, or alcohol, long-term cardiac arrhythmia, and damaged heart valves. An unhealthy lifestyle includes smoking and not getting enough exercise.
People say that each year, an average of 550,000 people in the United States join the 5 million who already have congenital heart failure. Even though this problem is more common in people 65 and older, it can happen to anyone. It can have devastating effects, especially if it goes unnoticed, so it’s best to know how to spot the signs of congestive heart failure.
There are four stages of congestive heart failure, each with worse symptoms than the last. There is no known cure for this condition, but there are treatments that can help a person feel better while they are still in the early stages.
So, what are the most common and first signs of it? If you have most or all of the following symptoms, you should see a doctor:
- Trouble getting enough air
When fluid builds up in the lungs, breathing is hard. A person with congenital heart disease has difficulty getting enough air, even when not doing anything.
Patients feel tired even after doing simple things. The person may also be unable to do daily tasks or exercise.
- Swelling in the legs, ankles, or stomach
This is mainly caused by the body holding on to water.
- Chest pains, a cough that won’t go away, and less alertness
Knowing the causes and signs of congestive heart failure will help you figure out if you have the condition early on and get help while you still can.
How to Treat Congestive Heart Failure
Traditional treatments for congenital heart disease usually include a set of medicines, a healthy diet, and changes to daily activities. There are different ways to treat congestive heart failure. Surgery is often the best way to treat congestive heart failure. Heart Valve Surgery is a treatment for congestive heart failure that is needed when a heart valve stops opening and closing properly. The most invasive treatment for congestive heart failure is valve replacement, also called open heart surgery.
Doctors do their best to treat the patient’s symptoms and give them the best prognosis, but there is currently no natural cure for congestive heart failure.
Heart failure happens when the heart can’t pump blood around the body properly. When this happens, nutrients and oxygen can’t get to the tissues, and the body can’t get rid of extra fluid through the urine. Instead, blood pools in the body. This leads to either a systemic or local edema, where fluid builds up in the veins and organs, making the extremities and organs swell (this fluid gathering is responsible for an excessive amount of stress on the heart as fluid accumulates in the pleural cavity as well as the dyspnea, or difficulty breathing, often symptomatic of heart failure). If the swelling and lack of oxygen and nutrients are not treated, they can cause permanent damage to the organs. This is a very bad sign for the patient.
Most of the time, the first step in treating congestive heart failure is to give extra oxygen to bring the oxygen levels in the tissues back to normal. Once oxygen has been given and a pulse oximeter shows that the blood oxygen levels are normal, the focus will shift to treating the body’s fluid buildup. Diuretics will be given to help the extra fluid leave the body through the urinary tract, and nitrates will be given to widening the blood vessels, allowing the blood to flow more freely and make the heart work less. Potassium supplements are often given to people taking diuretics because potassium is lost in the urine. Long-term hypokalemia can cause muscle weakness or paralysis and raise the risk of a fatal heart arrhythmia.
Changes to a person’s way of life are just as important as taking medicine to treat congestive heart failure over the long term. Patients should talk to their doctor about a low-sodium diet and exercise plan and do at least a little moderate exercise every day. Getting enough rest every day is just as important. When the body is at rest, the heart can pump more quickly, which is essential for a muscle that is already overworked. The nicotine in cigarettes speeds up the heart rate, raises blood pressure, and makes blood vessels more likely to clump together. People with congestive heart failure should not smoke.
Researchers are still looking for a cure for congestive heart failure, but until they find one, it is very important for people with congestive heart failure to follow their doctor’s treatment plan. People with congestive heart failure have a much better chance of staying healthy if they take good care of themselves.