Heart Failure

What is heart failure?
Heart failure is a progressive condition over time in which the heart's ability to pump
blood out to the body is compromised.
It can involve the heart's left side, right side, or both sides.
 
  Heart Failure
What are common causes of heart failure?
Heart attack
High blood pressure
Alcohol abuse
Illegal drug abuse
Heart valve disease
Viral infection
There are many other causes but these are the most common.
 
What are the symptoms?
Shortness of breath during activity: this occurs when there is a back up of fluid into the lungs because the heart is weak.
Difficulty breathing when lying down flat: this occurs because of fluid in the lungs.
Weight gain: this occurs due to water retention.
Swollen ankles, legs, stomach: this occurs because blood returning to the heart backs up because blood flowing out to the body is compromised.
Feeling tired or weak: this occurs because the heart cannot pump enough blood to meet the demands of the body.
 
How is heart failure diagnosed?
Echocardiogram: this is an ultrasound of the heart that reveals your heart's pumping function
Chest x-ray: this will look for any congestion or fluid build-up in the lungs
Blood work checking for B-type natriuretic peptide (BNP) levels
Physical exam performed by your doctor checking for swollen legs/ankles or distended neck veins or sound of fluid in your lungs
 
How is heart failure treated?
Combination of different medications to include: ACE inhibitors, beta blockers, diuretics (water pills). Many of these medications have been shown to slow the progression of the disease.
May benefit from bi-ventricular pacemaker or automatic implantable cardioverter defibrillator
If the heart is severely compromised despite optimum medical therapy, you may need a heart transplant.
 
How can I help to treat heart failure?
Limiting salt intake
Quitting smoking
Exercising
Losing weight
Monitoring daily weights and reporting any rapid increase to your doctor
Avoiding alcohol and/or illegal drugs
Taking your medications as prescribed
Close follow up with your doctor
 
*Please consult your doctor if you have any further questions.