What is Heart Failure?
Heart Failure is a chronic condition with serious consequences. It affects your general well-being including your mental, physical and social status, and its prevalence increases with age. There is no cure for Heart Failure, but a combination of lifestyle changes, medications and sometimes surgery can help in the management and the treatment of this condition.
There are numerous causes that lead to heart failure and the most common risks are:
- Cardiomyopathy – A disease of the heart muscle that causes the muscle to weaken. Coronary heart disease and other heart diseases can lead to cardiomyopathy.
- Coronary heart disease – One of the most common causes of heart failure as it restricts the ability of the heart to pump blood adequately. It refers to the hardening of the arteries supplying blood to the heart due to the build-up of fatty deposits in the walls of the arteries.
- Excessive consumption of alcohol and drug abuse
- High blood pressure – The heart has to work harder to supply blood to the body. If the heart is unable to keep up with the pressure, heart failure can develop.
- Others – Defects of the heart valves, and congenital heart disease (heart defects present at birth)
If you are suffering from Heart Failure, you may experience any of the following:
- Chest pain (Angina)
- Fainting and dizziness due to inadequate blood and oxygen supply delivery to organs and muscles
- Fatigue due to inadequate blood and oxygen supply delivery to organs and muscles
- Shortness of breath resulting from fluid build-up in the lungs
- Sudden death
- Swollen feet, ankles and legs resulting from fluid build-up in the veins and body tissues
- Weight loss
Your doctor may recommend a combination of lifestyle changes, medication, and sometimes surgery to try to treat heart failure.
- Lifestyle changes include:
- A healthy diet (you should limit salt intake to help reduce swelling)
- Maintain a healthy diet
- Quit smoking
- Reduce or eliminate consumption of alcohol and other harmful drugs
- Take regular exercise (your doctor can recommend a specific exercise programme)
- To correct Arrhythmia
- To help eliminate excess fluid in the tissues (diuretics)
- o help stimulate the heart’s pump action (Diagoxin)
- To lower blood pressure (vasodilators, ace inhibitors, arbs, and calcium channel blockers)
- Surgery may be recommended by your doctor to correct heart abnormalities that cause heart failure. In cases of end-stage heart failure, your doctor might consider:
- Heart Transplantation
- Left Ventricular Assist Device (LVAD) – A mechanical heart that helps the heart pump oxygen-rich blood into the body. This device is placed into the patient’s chest but does not replace the heart. This procedure is generally used in terminally ill patients.
- Mechanical Heart Devicealso known as an artificial heart – This is a man-made pump that takes over the pumping action of the heart
- Lifestyle changes include: