The heart's chambers may react by expanding to accommodate more blood to pump through the body or by stiffening and thickening. This keeps the blood flowing, but with time, the heart muscle walls may deteriorate and lose their ability to pump as effectively. The body may begin to retain fluid (water) and salt as a result of the kidneys' reaction. The body becomes clogged if fluid accumulates in the limbs, legs, ankles, feet, lungs, or other organs. The condition is referred to as congestive heart failure.
What causes heart failure?
Heart failure can be brought on by a variety of disorders that harm the heart muscle, such as:
Coronary artery disease: Reduced blood flow to the heart muscle is a symptom of coronary artery disease (CAD), a condition affecting the arteries that carry blood and oxygen to the heart. The heart suffers from a lack of oxygen and nourishment if the arteries are severely narrowed or obstructed.
Heart attack: When a coronary artery abruptly narrows and blocks blood flow to the heart muscle, a heart attack occurs. The heart muscle is harmed during a heart attack, leaving a scarred region that no longer functions properly.
Cardiomyopathy: Infections and alcohol or drug addiction are two other causes that may affect the heart muscle in addition to artery or blood flow problems. Conditions that cause the heart to work too hard. Heart failure may be brought on by excessive blood pressure, diseases of the valves, thyroid, kidney, or valves, diabetes, thyroid, or congenital heart problems. Heart failure can also occur when numerous illnesses or disorders are present at the same time.
Heart failure may develop gradually over time (chronic) or abruptly (acute).
Signs and symptoms of heart failure might include:
- Breathlessness when resting down or exercising.
- Weakness and fatigue.
- Legs, ankles, and foot swelling.
- An irregular or fast heartbeat.
- Decreased capacity for exercise.
- Persistent cough or wheezing with blood-tinged mucus that is either white or pink.
- Belly-area swellness (abdomen).
- Very quick weight gain due to fluid accumulation.
- Lack of appetite and nausea.
- Having trouble focusing or being less alert.
- Chest discomfort if a heart attack led to heart failure.
Heart failure is a chronic disease that requires lifetime treatment. However, heart failure symptoms and indications can go better with medication, and the heart may even get stronger. Doctors can occasionally treat heart failure by
Addressing the underlying reason: Heart failure may be reversed, for instance, by fixing a damaged heart valve or slowing a rapid heartbeat. However, the majority of patients who suffer from heart failure require a combination of the appropriate drugs and, occasionally, the usage of devices that support healthy cardiac function.
Heart failure is often treated by doctors using a mix of medicines. You could take one or more medicines, depending on your symptoms. Additional oxygen may also be given to you by way of a mask or tiny tubes inserted in your nose. You could require prolonged usage of supplementary oxygen if you have severe heart failure.
Surgery and other procedures
To address the root cause of heart failure, surgery or other methods to install cardiac devices may be advised. Heart failure surgery or other treatments could involve:
Coronary artery bypass surgery: Your doctor could advise coronary artery bypass surgery if your heart failure is caused by badly clogged arteries. Heart Bypass Surgery (CABG) is a surgical procedure performed to treat clogged parts of the arteries. It ensures a smooth flow of blood from and to the heart.
Heart valve repair or replacement: Your doctor could advise fixing or replacing the heart valve if it is the root cause of your heart failure. In order for the leaflets to shut tightly, surgeons can repair the valve by reattaching the valve flaps or by removing extra valve tissue. Sometimes replacing or tightening the ring surrounding the valve is part of valve repair.
Open heart surgery, minimally invasive surgery, or a heart treatment employing flexible tubes known as catheters can all be used to repair or replace a heart valve (cardiac catheterization).
Implantable cardioverter-defibrillators (ICDs): To stop heart failure problems, an ICD is performed. An ICD is a pacemaker-like gadget. With cables running through your veins and into your heart, it is implanted beneath the skin in your chest.
The cardiac rhythm is monitored by the ICD. The ICD attempts to pace or shock your heart back into a normal rhythm if it begins to beat at a risky rate or stops. If your heart rate is too slow, an ICD can act as a pacemaker and accelerate it.
Cardiac resynchronization therapy (CRT): CRT, also known as biventricular pacing, is a method of treating heart failure in patients whose lower heart chambers (ventricles) don't pump in unison. The ventricles receive electrical impulses from a device known as a biventricular pacemaker. Your ventricles contract more deliberately in response to the impulses, which enhances the flow of blood from your heart. CRT is compatible with an ICD.
Ventricular assist devices (VADs): A VAD often referred to as a mechanical circulatory support device, aids in the circulation of blood from the ventricles, the bottom chambers of the heart, to the rest of the body. A VAD can be implanted in either of your heart's ventricles, although the left ventricle is where it is most usually done.
If you're in the waiting period for a heart transplant, your doctor could advise a VAD. When a patient has heart failure but is not a suitable candidate for a heart transplant, a VAD may be utilized as a permanent therapy.
Heart transplant: Some persons experience such severe heart failure that neither surgery nor medicines are effective. These patients could require having healthy donor hearts implanted in place of their own.
Not everyone needs a heart transplant as a therapy option. You will be assessed by a medical team at a transplant facility to see if the operation would be secure and advantageous for you.