cause of heart failure | Dr Raghu

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There are many scenarios where you might want to see a doctor and find out whether you’ve developed heart failure. Perhaps you have a history of heart disease in the family and would like to assess your risk levels.

Or you might have developed symptoms, such as shortness of breath, chest pain, and swollen feet, that are indicative of heart failure. (Check out our previous article for a detailed glimpse of heart failure symptoms.)

Congestive Heart Failure

Or you might have completed an initial round of investigation and want a closer look at the root cause of heart failure. In any case, it’s essential to have a fair idea of the steps involved in diagnosing heart failure. Let’s take a look.

Family History and Medical Background

Diagnostic efforts for heart failure serve two primary purposes :

  • To determine the underlying cause
  • To assess the extent of the heart’s malfunction

The first thing a doctor will do is get a complete picture of your medical history. They’ll want to know the details of any symptoms you might have been experiencing. Also, they’ll ask about your diet and lifestyle, including your habits pertaining to exercise, smoking, and alcohol consumption.

Additionally, they’ll ask one or more of the following questions:

  • Do you have pre-existing conditions like high cholesterol levels, hypertension, diabetes, etc.?
  • Have you undergone treatments like chemotherapy?
  • Do you have a family history of cardiovascular diseases?

Your answers to these questions will give your doctor a better idea of your current physical condition.

Physical Examination

Next, the doctor will perform a thorough physical exam to analyze your heart activity. They’ll likely start by calculating your BMI and body fat percentage. Also, they’ll measure your vitals, including blood pressure and heart rate.

Additionally, they might use a stethoscope to identify abnormal heart sounds or murmurs that indicate a faulty heart valve. They’ll also watch out for soft noises or bruits to identify the narrowing of arteries.

They’ll examine your skin to see if it feels cold or looks discolored. They’ll also check your feet and abdomen for signs of fluid buildup. By the end of the physical exam, the doctor will have a better idea of your cardiovascular health.

Related : High Blood Pressure – Symptoms & Treatment

Diagnostic Tests

While a physical exam can indicate abnormal heart function, your doctor will likely run a few diagnostic tests to confirm the underlying cause of heart failure.

The most common tests include:

  • Blood tests, such as complete blood count, lipid panel, liver and kidney function tests, and a fasting glucose test
  • Brain natriuretic peptide (BNP) test to determine the risk of hospitalization and death due to heart failure
  • Chest X-ray to detect enlarged heart muscle or fluid buildup around the heart
  • 12-lead ECG to monitor the heart’s electrical activity and identify signs of a heart attack or irregular heartbeat
  • Echocardiography for a closer look at the heart’s chambers and pumping action in real time
  • Coronary angiography to identify coronary artery disease

Other tests like radionuclide ventriculography, exercise testing, and endomyocardial biopsy may also be prescribed.

Related : What is Coronary Angiogram?

In Conclusion

Diagnosing heart failure involves a combination of physical examination, blood tests, and non-invasive procedures like X-rays and ECG. The key is to identify the underlying cause of heart failure, so that your doctor can decide the right course of treatment.

Dr. C Raghu is an experienced cardiologist who specializes in interventional cardiology. If you or anyone you know is at risk of developing heart failure, reach out to Dr. Raghu for a thorough diagnosis.

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    Diagnosing Congestive Heart Failure Blog

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      Diastolic-heart-failure-img.jpg

      In our previous articles, we’ve discussed the symptoms of heart failure and the steps to diagnose the same. However, the course of treatment varies for every patient based on the type of heart failure they’ve developed.

      Depending on the part of the heart’s pumping cycle that’s been affected, there are two types of heart failure. In this blog, we’ll take a closer look at diastolic dysfunction and its symptoms.

      What Causes Diastolic Dysfunction?

      diastolic dysfunction

      The diastolic phase refers to the part of the heart’s pumping cycle when the ventricles (lower chambers) relax and let blood flow in from the atria (upper chambers). Diastolic dysfunction is a condition in which the ventricles don’t relax enough. That, in turn, prevents the normal amount of blood from entering the heart.

      Diastolic dysfunction is caused when the heart muscles become thicker and stiffer than usual. It’s more common in older women with hypertension and diabetes. If left untreated, it can lead to diastolic heart failure (also known as heart failure with preserved ejection fraction).

      Related : Understanding Congestive Heart Failure Symptoms

      What Does Preserved Ejection Fraction Mean?

      Ejection fraction refers to the volume of blood pumped out from the heart’s left ventricle with each contraction. For a healthy heart, the number falls in the range of 55% to 65%. A lower ejection fraction is one of the most common indicators of heart failure.

      However, it’s worth noting that many people with diastolic dysfunction have an ejection fraction of 50% or more (which is known as preserved ejection fraction). That means the left ventricle expels an adequate amount of oxygenated blood.

      However, the heart muscle doesn’t relax enough to let a sufficient quantity of blood in. That, in turn, causes the excess blood to back up in the lungs and results in fluid buildup in the feet and abdomen.

      How to differentiate systolic from diastolic dysfunction ?

      diastolic dysfunction

      In contrast to systolic dysfunction where the heart muscle is “weak”, in diastolic dysfunction the heart is “stiff”. This means that the heart is unable to pump blood out of the heart in systolic dysfunction whereas the heart is unable to accept further blood in diastolic dysfunction. Both conditions lead to congestion or fluid accumulation in various organs of the body. Differentiation of heart failure from systolic and diastolic dysfunction is not possible as both diseases present with similar symptoms. 

      Which conditions lead to Diastolic dysfunction?

      • Diastolic dysfunction appears consequent to uncontrolled or long-standing diabetes
      • Hypertension
      • Obesity as well as elderly people
      • Women and atrial fibrillation

      The best way to prevent and treat diastolic dysfunction is by effective control of the diseases mentioned above.

      Symptoms of Diastolic Dysfunction

      The most common symptom of diastolic dysfunction is congestion and shortness of breath due to the buildup of blood and fluid in the lungs. Breathing difficulties can get particularly worse during exertion or when lying.

      Other symptoms of diastolic dysfunction include:

      • Coughing and wheezing (due to lung congestion)
      • Loss of appetite and nausea (due to fluid buildup around the liver and in the stomach)
      • Swollen feet, legs, and abdomen (due to fluid accumulation)

      If you experience any of the given symptoms, it’s crucial to consult a doctor for a proper diagnosis.

      Treatment of Diastolic Dysfunction

      Treatment of diastolic dysfunction involves a combination of medications (diuretics or water pills) and lifestyle changes. In severe cases, a patient might need left ventricular assist devices or a heart transplant.

      Is Diastolic Dysfunction Serious?

      In the long run, diastolic dysfunction can lead to diastolic heart failure. That, in turn, increases your risk of hospitalization and death. Therefore, you should pay close attention to your symptoms and reach out to a doctor whenever you notice anything unusual.

      Dr. C Raghu is a renowned cardiologist who specializes in interventional cardiology. He has decades of experience in treating patients with different heart conditions. If you or anyone you know has developed symptoms like shortness of breath, swollen feet, loss of appetite, etc., contact Dr. Raghu to explore your treatment options.

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        What Are the Symptoms of Diastolic Dysfunction ? – Blog

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