Heart Failure is a condition in which the heart is unable to pump the blood throughout the body properly. Multiple of times people interchange the term ‘Heart Failure” with a heart attack thus it is necessary to understand the terms for better understanding

1. Heart Failure : As mentioned above a heart failure is a condition in which a heart muscle fails to pump the blood throughout the body in a proper manner.

2. Heart Attack : It is a condition in which the heart muscle begins to die due to the blockage of a coronary artery. This happens as the blockage leads to blockage of oxygen to the heart thus leading to the death of heart muscle.

Causes of Heart Failure :

Heart Failure can be an outcome of any disease leading to the damage to the heart muscle. The following are the list of conditions which can lead to a heart failure:

A) Heart Attack : A heart attack may affect the efficiency of the hearts functioning and thus can lead to a heart failure

B) Coronary Heart Disease : The coronary arteries supply blood to the heart muscle for its proper functioning. The heart stops functioning in the way it should if there is any blockage in the coronary arteries which blocks the supply of blood to the heart.

C) Cardiomyopathy : This is a condition which leads to the damage to the heart muscle due to infections or side effects after consuming drugs or other material. In this condition, the damage is caused to the heart by any other reason than that of blockage of the coronary artery.

D) Other conditions : There are various other conditions which may lead or increase the chances to a heart failure due to the overwork of the heart which can be mentioned as below :

  • 1. Valve diseases
  • 2. Hypertension also is known as high blood pressure
  • 3. Diabetes
  • 4. Kidney diseases
  • 5. Smoking
  • 6. Obesity
  • 7. Smoking
  • 8. Anemia
  • 9. Hyperthyroidism
  • 10.Hypothyroidism
  • 11. Myocarditis
  • 12. Heart arrhythmias
  • 13. Atrial fibrillation
  • 14. Emphysema
  • 15. Lupus
  • 16. Hemochromatosis
  • 17. Amyloidosis

Symptoms :

The heart failure can be chronic i.e ongoing or acute i.e can happen suddenly. One should immediately connect with a doctor in a case where more than one of the following symptoms are found:

1. Shortness of Breaths : The lungs may get filled up with the fluids which may lead to shortness of breath on exertion or even while resting especially when lying down.

2. Irregular Heartbeats : The heart might pump rapidly or faster than usual to cope up with the lack of blood.

3. Fluid retention : The kidney may face inadequate blood pumping into it thus would start storing fluids mainly water in it.

4. Swelling of ankles, abdomen and leg : As the fluid gets stored in the kidney it may lead to swelling of ankles, abdomen, leg and feet.

5. Weight Gain : There can be a weight gain due to the retention of the fluid

6. Increased Urination : There can be an increase in the urination or a feel to urinate due to the retention of the fluid.

7. Fatigue and weakness : Lack of blood or efficient blood flow in the body organs may lead to a feeling of fatigue or weakness. The brain can also get confused due to the lack of flow of blood to the organs leading to dizziness and confused mind.

8. Chest pain : There can be a chest pain in a case if the heart failure is leading to a heart attack.

Diagnosis :

Heart failure may be diagnosed with the combined evaluation of medical history, family history, physical examination and medical tests altogether which will help the doctor to understand the root cause of the symptoms, damages occurred to the heart and to find out if there is any disease or condition which can lead you to a heart failure or any other heart disease.

The diseases related to heart if found out at an early stage can help in reducing the damage which is caused to the heart or at the best to prevent any unfortunate event and can lead to a better and healthy life thus it is necessary to have regular checkups and do actions which can prevent the same. Following are the diagnosis activity which your doctor may use to diagnose the disease/condition:

1. Medical and Family History : Doctor may ask you certain questions based on your medical history or regarding the family history to understand if you or any of your family members had a heart failure or any condition or disease which could lead to a heart failure in past. The doctor may also ask you about the various symptoms which could be related to the heart failure.

2. ECG (ELECTROCARDIOGRAM) : ECG is a simple machine which is attached to the skin over certain parts of the body which collects the hearts electrical activity. It shows the regularity or irregularity of the hearts. It helps to know the strength and timing of the electrical signals of the heart and also find where the walls of the heart chambers are thick which further causes difficulty in pumping blood.

3. Blood Test : A blood test called as BNP helps in understanding the level of hormones and enzymes leaked into your blood due to a heart failure.

4. Chest X-Ray : A chest X-Ray obtains a view of the internal structure of the heart, lungs and blood vessels. It can help in diagnosing whether the heart is enlarged or if water is filed in the lungs or if a person has lung diseases.

5. ECHOCARDIOGRAPHY : The test helps in creating a moving picture of the heart with the help of the sound waves and determine whether the heart, its valves and the chambers are working normally.

6. Dopler Ultrasound : This test helps in measuring the speed and direction of the blood flow. This test usually is done along with Echo test to have additional information about the flow of blood. It is mostly used to diagnose the right-hand side heart failure.

7. Nuclear Heart Scan : This can is used to get information about the blood flow and the amount of blood flowing or reaching the heart muscle

8. Holter Monitor : A Holter monitor records your heart’s electrical activity for a full period of 24- or 48-hours, while you are in your normal daily routine.

9. Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) : A doctor may ask the patient to lie in a tube-like machine which releases a magnetic field into the atomic particles in some of the cells. When the radio cells are broadcasted they send information according to the type of tissue or tissues. These signals create the image of the heart thus determining the state and condition of the heart. This helps in determining whether any part of the heart is damaged by taking images of the heart at still and moving.

The above are few of the ways that can be done to diagnose a heart failure depending upon the condition and doctors recommendation.

Treatment :

As mentioned above, an early disgnosis and treatment of the heart failure can help the patient to prevent further damages and live longer and healthier. There are various stages and grades of a heart failure depending from mild to extream level. The doctor might suggest you for a treatment depending on the stage of the severity and type of the heart failure.

A) He may suggest you to treat the root cause of the heart failure e.g, Coronary heart disease, Diabetes, High Blood Pressure, Obesity etc which are also mentioned in the causes of heart disease above.

B) Recommend changes in the lifestyle : The doctor may recommend changes in lifestyle which include following proper and healthy food and diet, Reducing weight or having a weight as per the Body Mass Index, Quitting smoking, Exercising etc

C) Medication : The doctors may prescribe medications depending on the situation to consume to keep the situation under control.

D) Surgery or Medical Procedures : When medications and other methods do not work, the doctor might recommend the patient for a surgery or a medical procedure depending upon the various condition:

  • 1. Implanting a Cardiac Resynchronization Therapy Device : In a condition where the left side and the right side of the heart does not synchronise in the contracting process, the doctor may implant a Cardiac Resynchronization Theraphy Device near the heart which will help in creating a proper pace for synchronization.
  • 2. Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator (ICD) : Heart Failure can cause irregular and rapid heartbeats for some people which can cause a cardiac arrest if not treated in time. An Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator may be implanted near the heart to check the heart rates and use electrical pulses to correct the irregular heart rhythms.
  • 3. Implantation of a Mechinical Heart pump : This kind of device helps in properly pumping the blood into the body until the heart is treated properly.
  • 4. Heart Transplant : A heart transplant is a procedure in which a person’s diseased heart is replaced with a healthy heart donated by a diseased person within a stipulated period.

Procedures :

In addition to the above medications the doctor may also recommend the following procedures to avoid further damages:

1. Coronary angioplasty and stenting : A thin tube is put in through an artery, usually in the leg or groin towards the blocked artery in the heart. This procedure is done immediately after a cardiac catheterization which is a procedure used to locate the blockages in the heart.

The catheter is well equipped with a balloon. Once it is set at the position it is briefly inflated to open the blocked artery in the heart. For a long run, a metal stent which may slowly release medication is fixed at that area to keep the artery open in a longer run.

2. Coronary artery bypass surgery : In a case of emergency ( depending upon the situation ) a doctor may perform a bypass surgery Once the surgery or procedures are done the patient may have to stay at the hospital for sometime to be observed for safety.