Inability of the heart to pump sufficient amount of blood is known as congestive heart failure, CHF or heart failure. Because of that, many organs and tissues don’t have enough blood and as the result, there is retention of fluid in the body. Impaired heart still works, but it is not as efficient as it should be and patients become tired very fast and experience shortness of breath.
Some of the causes of this condition are: congenital heart defects, coronary artery disease, hypertension (high blood pressure), impairment of the heart valve, cardiomyopathy, endocarditis, myocarditis or even myocardial infarction.
How to Recognize CHF?
The most common sign of CHF is fatigue. People suffering from congestive heart failure usually become tired very quickly and they are not able to exercise. Many patients don’t realize but they tend to limit their activities to something they could do, avoiding exertion and fatigue.
Human body is affected by fluid retention. The lungs react by causing shortness of breath, which at first might be noticed only at physical exercise but some patients can’t breathe properly even when lying down or sleeping at night. Another symptom is increased urination, found to be especially frequent at nighttime. Nausea, abdominal pains and poor appetite may be caused by buildup of fluids in the liver and intestines.
Congestive Heart Failure Treatment
Mild or moderate congestive heart failure can be treated and these people can live more or less normally. Doctors usually recommend their CHF patients to rest properly, correct their diet and modify their daily activities according to their current condition. Besides this, non-pharmacological approach, CHF is also treated with different medications, such as: ACE (angiotensin converting enzyme) inhibitors, vasodilators, beta blocker drugs, diuretics and digitalis. ACE inhibitors and vasodilators work in the same way, expanding the blood vessels and increasing resistance of the blood. As the result of their action, the blood flows easier and the heart works easier and becomes more efficient. CHF caused by some other medical condition can be improved or alleviated with proper treatment of the cause.
Beta blockers positively affect the pumping of the heart, especially its left ventricle, while diuretics eliminate excess fluid and electrolytes. Another treatment includes digitalis, since this drug is known to be powerful stimulant of the heart and therefore beneficial for CHF patients.
More severely damaged heart may require heart transplant. However, this is a drastic step, and it is recommended only in cases where the heart is damaged beyond the repair.