What is heart failure?
Heart Failure is a condition that causes the muscle in the heart wall to slowly weaken and the hart to enlarge. Thus preventing it from pumping enough blood.
The combined figure for North America, Western Europe and Japan for people affected by chronic heart failure exceeds 10 million.
In Europe, there are over 5 million patients with heart failure. The number of patient developing heart failure per annum in the UK is approximately 2.3 per 1000 members of the population and over 400,000 new cases of heart failure occur every year in the USA.
Heart failure is extremely common and it is increasing world-wide. India has five times of this numbers put together as new cases are added every year.
What happens if the Heart fails to pump effectively?
1) Congested veins
2) Accumulation of fluid in abdomen
3) Accumulation of fluid in lungs (Pulmonary Congestion)
3) Abdomen distension
4) Swelling of feet
5) Sudden weight gain
Also read our article on: Coronary Artery Disease Symptoms
What are the causes of Heart Failure?
The most common cause is disease of the arteries supplying blood to the heart and reducing its own circulation called Coronary Artery Disease or IHD.
Many patient have a heart attack and develop weakness of heart muscles ultimately developing severe heart failure.
Other causes are:
1) Heart defects present since birth
2) Viral infection of the Heart, Infection of heart valves
3) Following delivery of the baby
4) Certain drugs can make the heart weak e.g. cancer drugs
5) Genetic Metabolic Disorders/Diseases of the Heart Muscle
How is it treated?
1) Your doctor may give you medicine to strengthen your heart and pills to help your body get rid of excess fluid
2) Your doctor will recommend a low-sodium (salt) diet
3) You may need oxygen for use at home
4) Your doctor may recommend certain lifestyle changes
5) Surgery or Cardiac devices may be needed in some cases
What can I do to manage my heart failure beside Medication?
1) Quit smoking if you smoke
2) Take your medicines exactly as prescribed
3) Weight yourself daily to check your weight gain in caused by increased fluid accumulation
4) Track your daily fluid intake
5) Monitor your blood pressure daily.
6) Lose or maintain your weight based on your doctor’s recommendations
7) Avoid alcohol and caffeine.
8) Eat a heart diet that’s low in salt and saturated fat.
9) Be physically active.
10) Get adequate rest.
Can heart failure be cured?
Bypass Surgery, Angioplasty, Valve Surgery, and Surgery of other defects as indicated.
Unfortunately, once heart muscles are damaged, heart failure cannot be cured.
1) However, with treatment and management of your symptoms and lifestyle, many people can lead a full and good-quality life. They can also carry on with their everyday life and activities.
Is there a risk of dying suddenly?
Some people with heart failure are at risk of dying suddenly be accuse they may develop a life- threatening irregular heart rhythm.
This can lead to a cardiac arrest. Automatic Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator (AICD) is a device which can prevent sudden death. Also some cases may improve with a device called Cardiac Resynchronization Therapy (CRT)
What are the options If Heart Failure is not improved despite maximal Medical and Device Therapy?
Heart Transplant is a definite curative procedure which improves the quality of life. Due to lack of organ donation, only few heart are available for transplant in India.
With increasing awareness, of organ donation more and more patients stand to benefit from Heart Transplant.
Ventricular Assist Device (VAD):Some patients who are not suitable for heart transplant or are waiting for heart transplant can be put on artificial heart support devices called VAD