Skye likes writing about mental health, nutrition, and wellness. She is passionate about sharing information that will educate, and positively affect people's lives.
Po-Chang Hsu, M.D.
Dr. Hsu received his medical degree from Tufts University in Boston, Massachusetts, and holds a Master’s of Science degree from both Harvard University and Tufts University. Outside of the medical profession, Dr. Hsu loves to write, learn new languages, and travel.
June 22, 2021
Simply put, congestive heart failure is a chronic and progressive condition in which your heart doesn’t pump blood efficiently. It is a condition that is a product of other heart diseases. Congestive heart failure can have many causes, such as coronary artery disease (CAD), which narrows the heart’s arteries, or high blood pressure that gradually leaves the heart too weak to pump blood as it should.
Congestive heart failure can be either an acute (sudden onset) or chronic (ongoing) condition. It is not always reversible (this depends on which condition caused it); however, it is treatable in most cases. Healthy lifestyle changes and appropriate medications can treat congestive heart failure symptoms, allowing for a better quality of life and helping a patient live longer.
This is a serious condition that requires prompt identification and treatment, so let’s take a look at congestive heart failure, its causes and symptoms, and how to treat it.
These conditions or diseases can cause congestive heart failure by weakening or damaging the heart over time, often without a patient even knowing it:
When dealing with an issue, the heart will compensate in particular ways that eventually cause damage through the whole body. Compensations used by a diseased heart include:
These compensations can mask problems, but heart failure will become worse. This is why it’s a good idea to make regular appointments with a doctor. Some people can suffer from a decline of the heart muscle for years before noticing any problems until it eventually comes on as a “sudden” series of symptoms.
Those who have congestive heart failure may also have kidney problems as well. As the kidneys are one of the first areas the heart will restrict blood flow to save itself.
There are four different types of heart failure, defined by the location of the weakness or stiffness of the heart muscle:
A patient’s prognosis with congestive heart failure depends on factors such as age, overall health, severity, and any underlying conditions. Some patients may see an improvement in heart function and symptoms under proper treatment. For others, heart failure may prove life-threatening and require stronger measures like a heart transplant or an assistive device.
Some complicating factors of congestive heart failure include:
Some common symptoms that are experienced by those who have congestive heart failure include the following:
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, you should make an appointment with a doctor as soon as possible to address these issues before they become worse.
If you are experiencing chest pain, fainting, or shortness of breath (especially with the appearance of coughing up pink mucus), call for emergency medical services.
The signs of heart failure may show some repetition to the symptoms list. The line between signs and symptoms is finely drawn. Symptoms are defined as subjective; they are what the patient feels. Signs are objective and are what the doctor can observe. Some of these things fall into both categories. Here is a list of some common signs of congestive heart failure:
After treating the acute symptoms caused by heart failure, the doctor will then address underlying problems. Depending on what has caused the heart failure, this may include certain prescription medications. In all cases, the doctor will recommend certain lifestyle changes to manage the condition and take the unnecessary strain off the heart.
“In more severe cases,” notes Johns Hopkins Medicine, “surgery is required to open or bypass blocked arteries or to replace heart valves. Some congestive heart failure patients are candidates for a type of pacemaker called biventricular pacing therapy, which helps both sides of the heart work in concert, or an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator, which shocks the heart into converting a potentially fatal fast rhythm to a normal one.”
If you notice any of the symptoms listed above, you should make an appointment with a doctor. The best way to treat congestive heart failure is to get a diagnosis and begin treatment for the conditions that caused it right away.
Our partners at PlushCare provide top-quality treatment for anyone experiencing any health issue. PlushCare is a telehealth site that recently was awarded one of the top startups of 2021 by Forbes.
Doctors at PlushCare can help diagnose, create ongoing treatment plans, and even prescribe medication for heart disease, all virtually. If through further examination they discover you need a specialist, they can refer you to one.
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