Heart Failure

What is heart failure?

Heart failure is a serious disease of the heart that is characterized by the heart not pumping blood as it should. As a result, the blood cannot carry enough nutrients and oxygen to the body. As a result, waste products are also not eliminated properly and fluid accumulates in some parts of the body.

The obstacle to blood flow can be located inside the heart muscle or outside the heart muscle, leading to an increase in blood pressure. There are two types of heart failure: systolic, when the heart muscle cannot pump blood out of the heart; and diastolic, when the heart muscles are stiff and do not fill with blood.

Prognosis of the disease

The prognosis will vary depending on the cause and severity, the general health of the patient and other individual factors such as age. The main problems that may result from the condition include kidney failure, liver damage, heart valve problems, or heart rhythm problems.

Symptoms of heart failure

The symptoms of heart failure vary from person to person. In the early stage there are usually no symptoms, but if it progresses, symptoms may worsen.

The main symptoms occur as a result of blood not flowing properly and fluid accumulation. These symptoms are:

  • Dyspnea
  • Coughing and wheezing
  • Weight gain
  • Swelling in the ankles

In addition, when there is a decrease in blood flow, symptoms such as tiredness and fatigue, dizziness and rapid heart rate may occur.

In cases of heart failure, the heart does not pump blood properly.

Medical tests for heart failure

To make a diagnosis of heart failure, the physician will review the patient’s medical history. This will be followed by a physical examination and questions about possible symptoms.

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The specialist should check for the presence of risk factors, such as high blood pressure, diabetes or coronary artery disease. Some of the following tests may also be performed:

  • Blood tests
  • Chest x-ray
  • Electrocardiogram
  • Echocardiogram
  • Stress test
  • Magnetic resonance imaging
  • Myocardial biopsy
  • Cardiac computed tomography scanning

What are the causes of heart failure?

The most common causes of heart failure are coronary heart disease, such as angina pectoris or myocardial infarction.

Arterial hypertension is another common cause of this disease, as well as excessive alcohol consumption.

Can it be prevented?

Heart failure can be prevented by changing lifestyle to a healthier one in addition to reducing cardiovascular risk factors. It is important to follow a series of tips:

  • Do not smoke
  • Control high blood pressure and diabetes
  • Exercise
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Avoiding stress

Treatments for heart failure

There is currently no therapy that completely cures heart failure. There are, however, treatments that can delay the progression of this pathology and improve the patient’s prognosis and quality of life. Sometimes it can be corrected by repairing a heart valve or controlling the acceleration of the heart rate, but in most patients it requires medication and, in others, the use of devices to make the heart beat and contract correctly.

First, the cause of the disease must be treated. Then, it is important to reduce risk factors and ingest diuretic products to improve symptoms, in addition to receiving pharmacological treatment to help reduce the heart rate.

What specialist treats it?

Heart failure should be treated by a specialist in Cardiology or Internal Medicine.