Despite its name, congestive heart failure does not necessarily mean that the heart has stopped working. However, heart failure is a serious condition, in which the heart does not pump blood around the body efficiently.
The body relies on the pumping action of the heart to deliver nutrient- and oxygen-rich blood to each of its cells. When the cells do not receive adequate nourishment, the body cannot function properly.
If the heart becomes weakened and cannot supply the cells with sufficient blood, it can lead to fatigue and breathlessness. Everyday activities that used to be easy may become challenging. There is usually no cure for heart failure, but with the right treatment, people can often lead enjoyable and productive lives.
Congestive Heart Failure Causes
Any condition that damages the heart muscle can cause systolic heart failure. These conditions include:
. Coronary artery disease: The coronary arteries supply the heart muscle with blood. If these become blocked or narrowed, the flow of blood diminishes, and the heart does not receive the blood supply that it needs.
. Heart attack: This involves damage to the heart muscle. It can result from a sudden blockage of the coronary arteries that causes scarring and reduces how effectively the heart can pump. The damage may also result from an increased demand for blood flow due to a fixed blockage.
. Nonischemic cardiomyopathy: This disease involves weakness of the heart muscle caused by something other than a blockage in the coronary arteries. Possible causes include genetic conditions, drug side effects, and infections.
. Conditions that overwork the heart: Examples include valve disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, kidney disease, sleep apnea, and heart irregularities present at birth.
The following are risk factors for congestive heart failure:
. diabetes, especially type 2 diabetes
. thyroid problems, including hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism
. myocarditis, which is inflammation of the heart muscle that usually occurs due to a virus and can lead to left-sided heart failure
. heart arrhythmias, or irregularities — a fast heartbeat can weaken the heart, and a slow heartbeat can reduce blood flow, causing heart failure
. atrial fibrillation, an irregular and often rapid heartbeat
. hemochromatosis, a condition in which iron accumulates in the tissues
. amyloidosis, in which deposits of proteins accumulate in one or more organ systems
Congestive Heart Failure Symptoms
The following are possible symptoms of heart failure:
. Congestion in the lungs: Fluid builds up in the lungs and causes shortness of breath, even when a person is resting, and particularly when they are lying down. It can also cause a dry, hacking cough.
. Fluid retention: Less blood reaches the kidneys, which can result in water retention and can cause swelling of the ankles, legs, and abdomen. It can also cause weight gain.
. Fatigue and dizziness: A reduction in the amount of blood reaching the brain and other organs can cause weakness, dizziness, and confusion.
. Irregular and rapid heartbeats: The heart might pump more quickly to try to counteract the lower volume of blood that it pumps out with each contraction. It may also activate stress receptors in the body, increasing the release of stress hormones.
Many other conditions can cause similar symptoms, so it is important to see a doctor. People who have received a diagnosis of heart failure should monitor their symptoms carefully and report any sudden changes to their doctor immediately.
Congestive Heart Failure Prevention and Management
Certain lifestyle changes can reduce the risk of heart failure or slow its progression. These include:
. giving up smoking, if applicable
. having a healthy diet that includes plenty of fruit, vegetables, quality fats, unrefined carbohydrates, and whole grains
. exercising regularly
. maintaining a moderate weight
. not drinking more alcohol than recommended
. getting enough quality sleep
. reducing stress when possible, as stress can strain the heart over time
In addition, people with heart failure should keep up to date with vaccinations, including the yearly flu shot.
Congestive Heart Failure Treatments
Damage that affects the heart’s pumping action is not always reversible. Nevertheless, treatments can significantly improve the quality of life by keeping heart failure under control and helping to relieve many of the symptoms.
Doctors also focus on treating the cause of heart failure. This will reduce the burden on the heart. The doctor, who may be a cardiologist, will present the treatment options and make recommendations that suit each person’s circumstances.
Some common treatments for heart failure include:
Many medications can treat the symptoms of congestive heart failure. They include:
. ACE inhibitors: These reduce the heart’s workload by helping the arteries relax and lowering blood pressure.
. MRAs: These block hormones produced by the adrenal glands that could damage the heart.
. ARBs: These reduce symptoms of heart failure and prevent blood pressure from rising. They include candesartan, losartan, and valsartan.
. ARNIs: These reduce strain on the heart.
. SGLT2 inhibitors: Also called gliflozins, these may help prevent and treat heart failure, according to a 2019 study.
. Diuretics: These help relieve ankle swelling, fluid retention, and breathlessness resulting from heart failure. Diuretics help the body remove water and salt. The two main types are loop and thiazide diuretics.
. Anticoagulants: These thin the blood, making it harder for the blood to clot and helping to prevent a stroke. Doctors closely monitor people who are taking these medications.
. Digoxin: This drug slows the heartbeat and improves the strength of heart contractions.
. Beta-blockers: Anyone with heart failure may benefit from taking beta-blockers.
. Antiplatelet drugs: These stop blood platelets from forming. Aspirin is an example, and it might be suitable for people with a very high risk of a heart attack or stroke and a low risk of bleeding — or for people who have had a heart attack or stroke. Current guidelines no longer recommend the widespread use of aspirin to prevent cardiovascular disease.
Not everyone with heart failure responds to drug treatments. In these cases, there are some surgical options:
. Coronary artery bypass graft: Doctors commonly recommend this procedure when coronary artery disease is the cause of congestive heart failure.
. Percutaneous coronary intervention: Sometimes called PCI, this is a nonsurgical procedure to place a stent in the heart to open up the blood vessels.
. Pacemaker: This is a small device placed under the skin in the chest to help correct an irregular heartbeat.
. Cardiac ablation: This procedure can help correct a heart rhythm problem. A catheter is inserted into the arteries or veins.
. Heart valve surgery: This procedure repairs a defective valve that makes the heart pump inefficiently.
. Implantable left ventricular assist device: For hospital inpatients who have not responded to other treatments, this can help the heart pump blood. Doctors may recommend them for people who are waiting for a transplant.
. Heart transplant: If no other treatments or surgeries help, a transplant is an option. Medical teams only consider a transplant for a person who is healthy beyond the problem affecting their heart.
Life Expectancy with Congestive Heart Failure
The life expectancy of someone with congestive heart failure depends on the type of heart failure, the cause, the stage of the disease, and how effective treatment is.
When heart failure results from cardiomyopathy or coronary artery disease, a person typically has a less positive outlook than someone with heart failure in its earliest stage.
About Iranian Surgery
Iranian surgery is an online medical tourism platform where you can find the best cardiologists in Iran. The price of Congestive Heart Failure Treatment in Iran can vary according to each individual’s case and will be determined by an in-person assessment with the doctor.
For more information about the cost of Congestive Heart Failure Treatment in Iran and to schedule an appointment in advance, you can contact Iranian Surgery consultants via WhatsApp number 0098 901 929 0946. This service is completely free.