Posted in Heart and Blood Vessels

Heart Failure Diagnosis and Treatment: A Complete Guide

Lub-DUB, lub-DUB, lub-DUB… At night, when everywhere is silent, if you listen carefully, you will hear the sound of your heartbeat. You might even hear the sound of blood flow in your veins. When I was in my first year in elementary school, my science teacher described the heart as a little red ball that jumps up and down. But, what’s the relation between this ball and heart failure?

Some people’s red ball jumps up and down very much, gets tired, feels short of breath, and slows down and can’t take it more than that. When this happens, you should help them, keep their hands and cheer them up. In fact, their little red ball may not be as lively as before. However, it’s still jumping up and down.

In fact, this is the story of the heart failure; somewhere in the life of some people, this little ball slows down or rather than jumping up and down on a regular basis, would jump irregularly. If this happens to the heart, as you know, they would call it heart failure.

Nowadays, we are going to discuss heart failure in this article. Read this article through the end so that you can read everything you need to know about this problem.

After reading this article, you can get complete details about heart failure. Details are in fact about symptoms of heart failure, its causes and its diagnosis. Finally, you will find some greatly useful information on the treatment methods of heart failure and the best way to treat it. So don’t miss this opportunity.

When we talk about heart failure, what exactly do we mean?

In order to understand under what condition heart failure happens, you should first know a bit about heart’s function.

When the blood enters the heart from different parts of the body, the heart first pumps it to lungs to receive oxygen. Then, the heart muscles pump the blood all over the body (we know this process as heartbeat).

The right side of the heart collects oxygen-poor blood from the body. Then, pumps it to the lungs. On the other hand, the left side of the heart is responsible for pumping blood. However, if any of these two sides don’t function well enough, heart failure occurs.

Actually, heart failure doesn’t mean that the heart is disabled. It only doesn’t function properly. In other words, it cannot collect either oxygen-poor blood from the body and pump it to the lungs or it takes the oxygen-rich blood from the lungs but cannot pump it to the whole body properly. In some cases, the heart does both of these barely.

(Heart failure occurs when the heart cannot pump the blood well throughout the body).

Honestly speaking, our heart is not a fair-weather friend. It stays beside us to the last of its breath and strength, so that we can laugh, walk, run and enjoy our lives. It’s for its jumping up and down that we fall in love with someone. However, how is it that this loyal friend gets into trouble?

The story of a heart that fails; let’s take a look at how heart failure develops

As I said, heart failure may occur in two situations. Firstly, when blood doesn’t enter the heart sufficiently. Secondly, when the heart cannot pump blood throughout the body.

For now, let’s identify these two as left-sided heart failure (the inability to receive blood from the lungs) and right-sided heart failure (the inability to pump blood).

Right-sided heart failure

In fact, in the normal state, the right parts of the heart should send the blood to the lungs in order to add oxygen to the blood. However, in right-side heart failure, the connection between heart and lung isn’t well established. As a result, blood is accumulated in the veins, which causes the legs, abdomen and neck to swell.

Left-sided heart failure

in fact, the left side of the heart is responsible for receiving oxygen-rich blood from the lungs and pumping it to all parts of the body. However, because the left part of the heart is defective in this condition, and the blood is not well carried to the heart, blood returns to the lungs and accumulates in the capillaries.

The left-sided heart failure itself has two types: systolic dysfunction, which occurs when the left ventricle is relaxed and diastolic insufficiency due to the thickening of the muscular wall of your heart.

Congestive heart failure (CHF)

Well, heart failure has a third kind and we haven’t discussed it before. It occurs when a person gets Left-sided heart failure, and after a while, he also suffers from right-sided heart failure.

After finding out the concept of heart failure, the first major challenge we are facing is whether we have a heart failure or not. To understand this, we need to take three steps together. Firstly, we find will out about the causes of heart failure. Secondly, we will look at the symptoms of heart failure and, finally, we will review the diagnostic methods of the disease. So Let’s get started right away.

What Causes Heart Failure?

As a matter of fact, inding the root causes of heart failure can be difficult. Because there are many factors that can cause the disease.

On the other hand, since we aren’t to study our lessons and memorize them before our teachers, it’s better to look a bit more practical it heart failure causes. That is to say; check which one of the heart failure causes do you have. Therefore, by simplifying the process, you can diagnose and treat heart failure easier.

So, look at the list below. Nevertheless, if you don’t find any similarities between your condition and these factors, you don’t need to continue reading the article.

Coronary artery disease (CAD)

This is the most common cause of heart failure. When the blood vessels around the heart are clogged, the heart cannot pump or receive blood easily. Therefore, the heart continually strives harder and, because the veins are narrower than before (due to clogging); the blood flow is slower and harder than before. As a result, the heart can’t bear it and fails to function properly.

• Congenital heart diseases

The heart of some babies when they are in their mother’s womb doesn’t develop naturally. That is, there will emerge some defective heart parts in the newborn child. Because these people have a weak and imperfect heart, they are very likely to develop heart failure.

Problems in the heart valves function

As a matter of fact, he valves of the heart are like street signs that direct the cars. The function of the valves is to direct the blood to its right direction. Nevertheless, when one of the valves doesn’t work properly and the blood deviates from the main direction, it will be difficult for the heart to control and pump it. As a result, heart failure can occur.

High blood pressure

Blood pressure is the pressure that blood puts on the vessel walls. Obviously, the higher the blood pressure is, the more pressure is put on the heart. The result is possible damages to heart valves. As a result, heart failure occurs.

• Thickening or enlargement of heart muscle

When the muscles of the heart become thicker and thicker, it is no longer easy for blood to flow, like when we wear many clothes in the winter. The heart is the same, when its muscles, which carry blood to all parts of the body, thicken, contracting and exposing them becomes hard for the heart and, as a result, the heart fails.

Heart rhythm problems (also called heart arrhythmia or irregular heartbeat)

Heart arrhythmia disease occurs when your heart rate is irregular. This problem can, if not treated in time, causes weakening of the body and the onset of some other illnesses, such as heart failure.

Cardiopulmonary diseases

Over time, some lung problems will cause right part of the heart muscles to enlarge. As a result, the connection between heart and lung will not be well established.

Diabetes

Having Diabetes increases heart failure risk

Besides diabetes itself, there are two other causes related to diabetes! In fact, it increases the risk of hypertension and clogging of the veins. Some medicines that are prescribed to treat diabetes may cause heart failure. However, don’t stop taking medications and be sure to consult your doctor.

• Overweight and immobility

Undoubtedly, overweight puts a great pressure on the heart, which slows and hardens the heart’s function. Moreover, it can cause diabetes and hypertension, each of which has a major impact on heart failure.

Symptoms of heart failure; Do I have it?

Well, until now, we found that heart failure may be caused by inherited factors, a series of illnesses, as well as some wrong habits. Now, one question arises: do those who have one of the above symptoms definitely develop heart failure?

You need to know the symptoms of heart failure to find out the answer. Like many other illness, heart failure has also its own signs and symptoms. Of course, none of these symptoms alone can be indicative of heart failure, but if you have a few of them, go straight to see a doctor for taking diagnostic procedures.

Shortness of breath (dyspnea)

Is can happen while you’re exercising or when you’re uncontrollably anxious or even when you’re resting and shortness of breath awakens you.

It occurs for people with heart failure when the lung cannot return oxygen rich blood to the heart. As a result, the blood is accumulated in the veins and breathing becomes hard.

• Swelling of the legs, ankles, abdomen and neck

Sometimes, you may suddenly notice that your shoes are too small for you or see your body’s swollen veins.

In this case, because of heart failure, the blood doesn’t circulate well in the body and fluids that need to be excreted through the kidney remain in the body and cause vein swellings in various body parts.

• Excessive fatigue

Obviously, in excessive fatigue, you get tired of everyday activities like shopping, climbing stairs, carrying food or walking.

Heart failure causes blood to not be present in the body’s tissues to the amount that is required. As a result, these organs cannot function properly and send signals of failure to the brain.

• Chronic cough and wheezing

Hard coughs that sometimes blood accompanies it are another symptom of heart failure. In these conditions, because the lungs cannot carry oxygen to the blood flow, the body is deprived of fresh oxygen of the fresh air and coughing starts.

• Nausea and anorexia

The digestive system in the body is less likely to get enough blood due to heart failure. As a result, you will feel uncomfortable in your stomach.

• Lack of concentration and consciousness

Unquestionably, blood is responsible for supplying some of the substances required by the organs. Substances such as oxygen, sodium, etc., are vital for the proper functioning of the organs. Heart failure causes these substances to be transferred in a very small or excessive amount.

If our body’s nervous system fails to get required substances through the blood, we will definitely develop mental disorders, confusion and weak memory.

• Irregular heartbeat or heart palpitations

In heart failure, the heart needs to have a faster heart rate to balance the blood pumping capacity.

Get to know four different stages of heart failure

In addition to the above symptoms, specialists divide heart failure into four stages according to its severity: stages A to D, from the risk of developing heart failure to its progressed stage.

As you approach the final stages of the disease, the severity of the illness increases and the heart muscles pump less blood to other parts of the body.

However, there are special signs and treatments at each stage. You should diagnose these symptoms timely and undertake therapeutic procedures so that you don’t enter a worse stage. This is because if the disease progresses, you cannot move to the previous stage, you can only improve a few things.

Stage A:

At this point, you are at the risk of heart failure. The failure of heart at this stage is more due to hereditary factors or some diseases affecting heart and lung function.

Blood pressure and diabetes can be the cause of heart failure. Besides metabolic syndrome, a family history of cardiomyopathy and rheumatic fever are of the other causes of this disease.

If you used to drink alcohol, you are more likely to develop this disease. In addition, if you have used anticancer drugs before, you should be careful not to suffer from heart failure.

Stage B:

In fact, heart failure begins here. Usually, at this stage, the left part of the heart develops systolic problems. However, symptoms don’t appear clearly at this stage.

At stage B, you live your everyday life without any problems. Nevertheless, you suffer from extreme fatigue, heart palpitations, and shortness of breath when exercising and doing physical activities. Here, heart failure develops slowly and without signs.

Stage C:

At this stage, the disease has detectable symptoms and affects your health. Particularly, you breathe hardly after waking up in the morning . Moreover, your legs weaken and your abdomen and ankles swell. Even for very simple physical activities, you’ll have some trouble. Moreover, you’ll be tired very soon, your heart rate will rise and you’ll breathe hardly.

Stage D:

This is clearly he final stage of heart failure, where the illness gets worse and affects your life. Physical activities are difficult to do, and your heart bothers you even while resting.

Take heart failure serious before…

If you control the heart failure early (in steps a and b), it can be completely cured. Nevertheless, if it gets worse, it will also endanger some other vital organs of the body, even if it makes life difficult for you.

Scientifically, this can be fully explained. As explained, the heart transfers the oxygen received through the lungs and the absorbed food of the stomach and intestines to the body. In reality, if the heart function irregularly for a moment (I emphasize; just for a moment), other organs will be in trouble.

Heart failure diagnosis:

The analyses from the previous steps tells us “Hey! It’s time for you to do something for it!” at his stage, all the signs and symptoms have come hand in hand to tell us “you have heart failure, ma dude!”

First, you have to put on your clothes, and see a specialized cardiologist. He is supposed to remove your doubts and tell you what exactly to do.

Next, you should tell your doctor about the history of the disease in the family and your medical history. The doctor will also take some tests to better diagnose. The doctor will select the type of these tests. Finally, he determines which method is best for you according to your conditions.

Kidney Disease or Damage:

Heart failure reduces blood flow to the kidney. As a result, both kidney tissue and function damage. As a result, kidney failure occurs. If kidney failure is due to heart failure, it can lead to dialysis.

Heart Valve Problems:

The valves of the heart, as mentioned above, are responsible for keeping the blood in the right direction. They may be damaged due to an enlarged heart or high blood pressure.

Heart Arrhythmia (Also Known as Dysrhythmia or Irregular Heartbeat):

Irregular heart rhythm is a potential complication of heart failure. When the heart is healthy, it pumps the blood to the whole body with a perfectly ordered pulse. However, when the heart failures, each pulse requires more energy. As a result, this required more energy would cause heart arrhythmia.

Liver Damage:

Heart failure in the right side of the heart causes excess liquid to accumulate in the abdomen, and the pressure that this liquid puts on the liver can cause the liver to wound. As a result, these wounds cause the liver to not work properly.

Electrocardiography (ECG)

It is the process of recording electrical activity of the heart (a graph of voltage versus time). By this, the doctor can see any irregularities in your heart function.

Blood and urine tests

Your blood and urine contain everything; everything that happens throughout the body and is traceable in the blood. Therefore, with a simple blood or urine test, doctors can diagnose whether or not you have heart failure.

Chest radiography (chest X-ray (CXR)

An example of female chest radiograph

By chest radiography, your doctor will notice any changes in your heart’s structure and identify the problems.

Heart echocardiography (ECO)

Echo is like heart ultrasound.

a heart like ultrasound from the heart. Using this method, the doctor can see the blood flow in the arteries and the heart and see if your heart functions regularly. Consequently, if the heart is defective, it is recognizable.

Anxiety test

 As said before, stress and anxiety are the main causes of many diseases. For this reason, taking anxiety test is important in detecting heart failure.

Heart MRI

In this method, they take more quality images of the hearts than echocardiography. As a result, the doctor has better information for detecting heart failure.

Angiography

In this diagnostic method, they inject a harmless liquid into your veins, which makes it possible for the physician to see inside the veins. As a result, he/she can detect any clogging.

Heart failure treatment

For someone who doesn’t want to involve himself/herself in complicated medical details, it may be of no difference to know about heart failure treatment methods. But I can guess that since you are going through this article, you are exactly from those who like to reach every nook and cranny about this subject and make the best decisions. So, I want to help you by introducing all the heart failure treatment ways.

An important point in the treatment of heart failure is that the type of treatment you would have depends on the severity and stage of the disease. Usually in the early stages (to put it precisely, from stage A to C), the doctor will try to improve your situation with the use of drug therapies. Finally, in stage d, heart failure is treated using more invasive procedures such as surgery.

Taking medicine: The first way for treating heart failure

They can help the arteries and lower blood pressure, improve heart function and make life easier for people. However, these medicines aren’t good for some and may have side effects like coughing.

Diuretics

These medications lead any liquid accumulated in the body to the bladder, so that urination can happen. As a result, the heavy pressure on the heart decreases and the lungs free up from the liquid accumulated there. Consequently, breathing become easier.

Beta blockers (β-blockers)

These medications increase the diameter of the vessels and result in low blood pressure. Since most people with heart failure have a heartbeat disorder, they are also useful for heart rate regulation.

Digoxin

Digoxin gives the heart more power so that the muscle of the heart can contract more easily and make blood flow easier.

Because digoxin is related to the blood potassium level, it is possible that they take potassium levels tests before starting your treatment to leave no doubt.

Anticoagulant drugs

These medications don’t allow blood to clot in the veins and thus prevent stroke. You should check the dose of this drug with a doctor.

Antiplatelet drugs

This drug lowers blood platelet levels, and as a result, the platelets don’t become numerous and don’t stick to each other (platelet aggregation doesn’t occur). Thus, the blood isn’t clotted.

Surgery: the last method for treating heart failure

When using medications are not effective in treating heart failure, the doctor prefers to use surgical procedures to improve your condition. Surgeries such as:

Heart valve surgery

In this operation, that heart valve that doesn’t work properly is treated. Thus, heart failure improves.

Left ventricle laser

Patients who have not been successful in other treatment methods use this method and wait for a heart transplant.

Heart Transplantation

Transplantation is the final choice and it is for those who have not any other diseases or disorders other heart failure. That is, they have none of the above-mentioned complications.

In this article, we tried to express every point that is related to heart failure. I think the horrible disease that once may had devoured your life calmness, now seems to be easily curable. Now, you have complete information about causes and reasons you are developing heart failure disease so that you can make best decisions about it.

Final word

There is only one point that I want you to take it seriously. In fact, it is you should take the causes of heart failure seriously. Apart from treating your heart problems, you should also treat other illnesses that cause heart failure. This prevents from damage to other organs of the body.

If you have an experience of heart failure, please share it with us to help those who are on the beginning of this procedure. I hope your little red ball be with you to the very end of your life and add joy, energy and love to it.

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