Our heart act as a pump to sustain the circulation of blood throughout our body. When the heart muscle is weakened and no longer capable to pump effectively, we refer to this as heart failure. With a compromised circulation, fluid can accumulate in the lower legs leading to ankle swelling. If there is pile up of fluid in the lung, this may result in the symptoms of shortness of breath on exertion or in more severe cases, breathlessness on lying flat.
The other symptoms of heart failure may also include profound fatigue during physical activities and rapid weight gain due to fluid retention.
Sub-optimally controlled heart failure not only compromises quality of life but can lead to repeated hospital admission and threatens life expectancy.
Your specialist will usually perform an ECG and ultrasound (also called echocardiography) of your heart as an initial investigation to confirm the diagnosis.
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.