What is Congestive Heart Failure: Types, Causes, Symptoms, Treatment, Prognosis, Diagnosis

What Is Congestive Heart Failure?

Congestive Heart Failure is a pathological condition of the heart in which the chambers of the heart get damaged. To understand the anatomy of the heart, the heart has four chambers, which are the two atria in the upper half of the heart and two ventricles on the lower half of the heart. The function of the atria is to receive blood from the body and the function of the ventricles is to transport blood to various parts of the body. In Congestive Heart Failure, the ventricles are not able to pump enough blood to different parts of the body resulting in the blood backing up in the lungs, liver and various other parts of the body.

What Is Congestive Heart Failure?

What Are The Different Types of Congestive Heart Failure?

There are basically two types of Congestive Heart Failure, right sided and left sided.

Left-Sided CHF: This type of Congestive Heart Failure or CHF develops when there is damage to the left ventricle and is the most common type of Congestive Heart Failure. This type of Congestive Heart Failure can cause build up of fluid in the lungs causing shortness of breath.

Right-Sided CHF: This type of Congestive Heart Failure may occur in tandem with right-sided CHF, but that is not always the case. In this type of Congestive Heart Failure, the right ventricle gets damaged with inability to pump adequate blood to parts of the body resulting in fluid build up in lower extremities, abdomen and other important parts of the body.

What Causes Congestive Heart Failure?

Congestive Heart Failure may be caused due to certain cardiac conditions, which impair the functioning of the heart. Hence, people who have a history of hypertension or other minor cardiac issue should get regular checkups so as to reduce the risk of developing CHF.

Some of the causes of Congestive Heart Failure are:

Hypertension: Elevated blood pressures may more often than not lead to Congestive Heart Failure. Hypertension usually develops because of cholesterol deposits or even due to age, hence it is extremely vital to get the blood pressure checked at regular intervals and keep it within normal limits.

Coronary Artery Disease: This is a medical condition in which there is stenosis of the coronary arteries due to build up of plaques causing restricted blood flow.

Valve Abnormalities: The function of the heart valves are to open and close whenever the blood comes in or goes out of the heart. Any abnormality in performance of the heart valves may also cause Congestive Heart Failure.

What Are The Symptoms Of Congestive Heart Failure?

During the initial phases, Congestive Heart Failure is completely asymptomatic and hardly any symptoms are observed, but as the disease condition advances there may be observation of symptoms to include the following:

  • Severe and persistent fatigue
  • Swelling of the lower extremities
  • Abnormal weight gain
  • Increased urge for urination mostly at night
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Chronic cough
  • Wheezing
  • Radiating chest pain
  • Rapid breathing
  • Cyanotic skin
  • Syncopal episodes

How Is Congestive Heart Failure Diagnosed?

Once you start noticing symptoms and report it to the physician, the physician will first perform a detailed physical examination. The physician will conduct a percussion of the heart looking for any abnormal murmurs. Certain tests may also be recommended to take a better look at the valves and vessels of the heart to see if they are functioning normally. Some of these tests are

  • MRI of the heart to look at the internal structures in order to identify any abnormalities
  • Stress tests to check whether there are any abnormalities in the functioning of the heart while exercising
  • Blood tests to look for any signs of infection

How Is Congestive Heart Failure Treated?

There are basically two ways of treating Congestive Heart Failure which are medications and if they are ineffective then the surgical route is chosen.

Medications: Medications which are normally used for treatment of Congestive Heart Failure are ACE Inhibitors. These medications open up the narrowed arteries so that blood can flow through them normally. In some cases ACE inhibitors are not so well tolerated so in such cases vasodilators are used. Beta-Blockers are another option which reduce blood pressures and slow down the heart rate thus helping with Congestive Heart Failure. Diuretics may be given to cut down the fluid content of the body as Congestive Heart Failure makes the body retain more fluid than normal.

Surgical Procedure: This route is taken if medications are not effective in treating Congestive Heart Failure. The procedure done to treat Congestive Heart Failure is called as angioplasty in which blocked arteries are opened up by making an incision. A heart valve repair to repair faulty valve is also an option.

Prognosis of Congestive Heart Failure

When it comes to prognosis of Congestive Heart Failure, this condition improves with medications or surgery but it is important to note here that it is absolutely necessary to diagnose the condition as early as possible, the earlier Congestive Heart Failure is diagnosed the better is the prognosis. Basically, the prognosis of Congestive Heart Failure depends on the overall condition of the patient and whether the patient has underlying conditions like diabetes and hypertension and how advanced is the stage of Congestive Heart Failure.

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