Heart failure is a serious condition wherein the heart muscles do not pump blood as efficiently as they should, leading to fluid buildup in the lungs that causes shortness of breath. Certain conditions, such as coronary artery disease or high blood pressure, can cause the heart muscles to weaken over time, hence resulting in a heart failure.
Although serious, early detection paired with the appropriate treatment and lifestyle changes can help reduce the risk of heart failures to a great extent. Heart failure can often characterize itself through the following symptoms:
- Shortness of breath with activity or when lying down
- Fatigue and/or weakness
- Swelling in the legs, ankles and/or feet
- Irregular or rapid heartbeat
- Reduced ability to exercise
- Persistent coughing or wheezing, with a white/pink mucus
- Swelling in the abdomen
- Rapid weight gain from fluid buildup
- Loss of appetite
- Difficulty concentrating
- Chest pain (if heart failure is caused by heart attack)
Heart failures could occur at any point in time, and the chances of its occurrence can be greatly affected by several risk factors, including:
- Coronary artery disease
- Heart attacks
- Heart valve disease
- High blood pressure
- Abnormal/irregular heartbeat
- Congenital heart diseases
- Certain medications
- Smoking and/or alcohol intake
- Sleep apnea
- Viral infections
Upon consultation with the doctor, you will be advised on the necessary treatments and preventive measures to be undertaken. Your specialist will usually perform an ECG and ultrasound (also called echocardiography) of your heart as an initial investigation to confirm the diagnosis.
Once confirmed, the appropriate treatment will be administered to you. The treatment will be targeted at the underlying cause of heart failure and may involve treating coronary artery disease with angioplasty and tailored medical therapy to improve the heart function. In selected patients with more severe symptoms implantation of automated defibrillator may be considered.
- Why am I asked to restrict my total daily fluid intake to 1.5L
- When the heart is damaged and can no longer pump efficiently, there is congestion in the circulatory system and fluid start to pile resulting in overload. Capping the fluid intake prevent the worsening of fluid overload.
- I am taking too many pills doctor!
- Unfortunately, this is frequently the case. Heart failure can be due to coronary artery disease, hypertension, rhythm disturbances or a combination of these common heart problems. There is no surprise that we have to take medication to counter each condition effectively plus a few more for the heart failure. Do spend time discussing with your cardiologist about rationalizing the drug regime to find drugs that can treat more than one conditions or consider those 2-in-1 pills to reduce the number of tablet taken each day.