Heart failure is an umbrella term for a set of physical symptoms arising due to the gradual deterioration in the heart’s pumping ability. The term “congestive heart failure” was traditionally used because the condition resulted in fluid buildup and congestion in the lungs.
However, doctors and medical researchers have found that it causes a wide array of other symptoms. That’s why they now refer to the condition as heart failure.
A healthy human heart relaxes and contracts nearly 100,000 times a day and pumps more than 2,000 gallons of blood throughout the body. The cardiovascular system also includes a network of arteries and veins to transport deoxygenated and oxygenated blood to and from the heart. If any part of the system falters, it can disrupt the flow of blood to vital organs.
Heart failure is characterized by a progressive decline in the heart’s power to pump blood. When that happens, the heart goes through a series of structural changes (knowns as cardiac remodeling) and beats faster to pump more blood.
Also, the blood vessels constrict to stabilize blood pressure and restrict blood supply to non-critical organs like the skin and kidneys. When blood flow to the kidneys reduces, it compels the body to retain more fluid and sodium.
All these short-term fixes result in more damage and cause even more stress to the heart muscles. That, in turn, results in further deterioration of the heart’s pumping action.
The symptoms of heart failure vary depending on whether they’re caused due to a lack of oxygen or an increase in fluid build.
Lack of oxygen supply results in the following symptoms :
Excess sodium and fluid buildup in the body causes the following symptoms:
The most common causes of heart failure include:
There are various ways to categorize congestive heart failure. Depending on the part of the heart’s pumping that’s affected due to heart failure, it can be of the following types:
Also, depending on the side of the heart that’s affected, heart failure can be categorized as left-sided failure and right-sided failure. The treatment approach a doctor will use depends on the type of heart failure a patient has developed.
The American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association has outlined four stages to denote the progression of heart failure. While Stage A is characterized by risk factors like underlying medical conditions, stage B shows structural changes in a patient’s heart. The more advanced stages (C and D) present visible symptoms.
Heart failure (also known as congestive heart failure) is a progressive condition caused by the heart’s inability to pump blood adequately. It results in symptoms like shortness of breath, fatigue, weight gain, and brain fog.
Dr. C Raghu is an eminent cardiologist with more than two decades of experience. If you or someone you know has developed congestive heart failure symptoms, consult Dr. Raghu to explore your treatment options.
Heart failure is a common condition with no known cure. However, proper treatment can control the disease progression and thus improve a patient’s quality of life and longevity. To decide the proper course of treatment, a doctor must first determine the type of heart failure a patient has developed.
Depending on the part of the heart’s pumping cycle that’s been affected, heart failure can be of two types – diastolic and systolic. You can learn more about the symptoms, causes, treatment of diastolic dysfunction and differentiation from systolic dysfunction in our previous article.
In this blog, we’ll delve deeper into systolic heart failure and understand its causes and symptoms.
Systolic heart failure occurs due to a problem in the heart’s contraction (or systolic) phase. It’s characterized by stretching and weakening of the left ventricular muscle, due to which the heart pumps out less oxygenated blood to the body.
It’s also known as heart failure with reduced ejection infraction. As the condition worsens, it can also weaken the right ventricle and take a toll on its pumping power too.
Systolic heart failure is caused by underlying medical conditions that damage the left ventricle. The most common causes include :
Additionally, people who are older or have diabetes are at a higher risk of developing systolic heart failure.
In systolic heart failure, an adequate amount of oxygen-rich blood doesn’t reach all organs. The most common indicator of the condition is a lower ejection fraction.
It can result in the following symptoms:
Typically, a doctor prescribes various tests, such as chest X-ray, ECG, and echocardiography, to diagnose systolic heart failure and its root cause. The treatment plan depends on the underlying cause.
In most cases, systolic heart failure is treated using one or more of the following medications:
Additionally, doctors recommend a healthy diet and lifestyle changes to improve cardiac health and manage underlying conditions, such as hypertension and diabetes.
If left untreated, systolic heart failure can damage vital organs and even lead to death. It’s crucial that patients watch out for symptoms like swollen feet, mental confusion, and bluish skin color and seek medical treatment at the earliest.
Dr. C Raghu is an experienced cardiologist who specializes in interventional cardiology and TAVR. If you or anyone you know is experiencing symptoms of systolic heart failure, connect with Dr. Raghu for proper diagnosis and treatment.
In our previous blogs, we’ve discussed the common symptoms and treatment options for heart failure. However, the plan of treatment depends on the side of the heart that’s affected.
Heart failure is usually of two types – left-sided and right-sided. While left-sided heart failure is the result of the weakening of the left ventricle, right-sided heart failure is caused due to a weak right ventricle.
In this article, we’ll take a closer look at right-sided heart failure to understand its causes and symptoms. Let’s get started.
Right-sided heart failure is a condition characterized by the weakening of the heart’s right ventricle. That means the right ventricle can’t pump deoxygenated blood into the lungs with maximum efficiency. It results in a buildup of blood in the veins, thus causing swelling in the legs and abdomen.
The most likely cause of right-sided heart failure is a weak left ventricle. In other words, left-sided heart failure eventually leads to right-sided heart failure.
When the left ventricle becomes weak, it can’t pump an adequate amount of oxygen-rich blood into the body. It causes blood to back up into the lungs. That, in turn, means the right ventricle has to work harder to pump oxygen-depleted blood into the lungs. It results in the gradual weakening of the muscles and leads to right-sided heart failure. Left-sided heart failure is usually caused by coronary artery disease, hypertension, or a previous heart attack.
Additionally, any condition that taxes the right ventricle’s pumping power can lead to right-sided heart failure. These include:
One of the most common right-sided heart failure symptoms is swelling in the legs and abdomen due to fluid buildup. Accumulation of fluid in the abdomen can also cause nausea, bloating, and loss of appetite.
Other symptoms of right-sided heart failure include:
Firstly, a cardiologist will ask you about your symptoms and medical history. Also, they’ll perform a physical examination to check your blood pressure and heart rate. They might even use a stethoscope to identify abnormal heart sounds.
They can also recommend routine blood tests, such as complete blood count, lipid panel, and electrolyte tests. Additionally, they can order a brain natriuretic peptide test.
Besides blood tests, doctors also order the following lab tests to diagnose right-sided heart failure:
Congestive heart failure is an outdated term that was used to refer to fluid buildup in the lungs due to a weak left ventricle. However, a more inclusive term – heart failure – is used now. Right-sided heart failure is a specific type of heart failure caused by a weak right ventricle.
The most common right-sided heart failure symptoms include swelling in the legs and abdomen, breathlessness, and chest pain. Doctors use a variety of tests, including ECG, coronary angiography, and chest X-ray, to diagnose the condition and determine the right course of treatment.
Dr. C Raghu is an eminent cardiologist specializing in interventional cardiology. He’s helped several patients with serious heart conditions. If you or someone you know is experiencing symptoms of heart failure, reach out to Dr. Raghu today.
ECG is a simple inexpensive test to asses heart function. ECG is the short form for electrocardiogram or electrocardiography.
ECG equips the doctor with basic heart information such as
An ECG is a simple yet powerful tool to assess the heart function. But at the same time a normal ECG does not rule out a heart attack or other diseases if the disease is quite early stage. If the disease is advanced the ECG remains a quite predictable and powerful tool. So, if the person had a heart attack, we do not entirely rely upon ECG but we additionally incorporate the value of high sensitive troponin to make a confirmed diagnosis of heart attack.
Information obtained from ECG is utilized while interpreting advanced tests such as echocardiography (echo), coronary angiography, cardiac MRI, PET CT scan etc.
ECG is a powerful tool in advanced disease but in the early disease too it could be used as an adjunct to other tests.
Heart failure is not a single disease instead it is a constellation of symptoms. In this disease the heart is unable to meet the requirements of the body by its inability to pump or be able to do so by increasing the filling pressures so that it might pump effectively.
Heart Failure is not a disease but a group of symptoms. It is the result of many diseases affecting not only the heart but other organs of body.
All the three terms refer to different medical issues.
Inefficient functioning of the heart leads to fluid logging in the body
Heart failure is a result of many disease processes in the body. Common among them being: Coronary artery disease:
In addition, advanced age itself beyond the age of 65-70 the efficiency of the heart reduces leading to heart failure.
The tests for the diagnosis of heart failure are
Blood tests in heart failure :
Electrocardiogram (ECG) : This remains an important test
Electrocardiogram (ECG) : This remains an important test
Echocardiogram : The most common and important test for the diagnosis of heart failure is the echocardiogram where we estimate the left ventricular ejection fraction (measures the pumping ability of the heart) or in short called as EF.
Other test done to manage heart failure are cardiac MRI and nuclear test.
For every 3 patients with heart failure 2 have underlying obstruction to the heart’s blood supply. Identifying this is super important because removal of these obstructions by angioplasty and stent can lead to improved cardiac function.
The blood vessels supplying the heart are the coronary arteries and obstructions are called coronary artery disease. So, whenever there is a coronary artery disease, we can identify that only by performing a coronary angiography.
The major advantage of this investigation is apart from diagnosis in coronary artery disease, in case if any blocks in heart vessels are identified they can be treated by performing a balloon angioplasty and a stent procedure.
The benefit of removing the cholesterol plaques in the heart vessels is that – there can be a strong chance for the heart functioning to recover once the blood flow is restored back to the heart.
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