Heart failure is a very common, resource-intensive condition that can be highly disabling and eventually fatal. In fact, in Western countries it is among the leading causes of hospitalization.
Even so, in many cases it is reversible and, if it is acted on time, complete recovery is possible. Therefore, it is important to know what it is and how to detect it to minimize its damage.
What is heart failure and what are its causes?
Heart failure is nothing more than the inability of the heart to pump the adequate amount of blood so that the body continues to function normally.
Alternatively, the heart may compensate for this lack of capacity by increasing ventricular pressure , which can seriously damage it.
In most cases, heart failure is the result of ischemic heart disease or coronary heart disease , which together constitute the leading cause of death in developed countries; However, it can also be caused by other causes such as congenital, valvular or hypertensive heart disease.
In any case, and although the insufficiency results from underlying heart disease, it is common for there to be triggering pathologies , such as infections, arrhythmias, physical excesses, myocardial infarctions, pulmonary embolisms, anemia, thyrotoxicosis, pregnancy, myocarditis or endocarditis.
What are your symptoms?
The condition that the patient presents depends on which chamber is affected (left or right), since each one sends blood to a part of the circulatory system.
Thus, in the case of left heart failure, which pumps blood from the lungs to the rest of the body, the symptoms are mainly respiratory , such as respiratory distress, dyspnea, orthopnea (dyspnea when lying down), fatigue, acute pulmonary edema, dizziness , confusion and profuse sweating.
In contrast, right heart failure manifests itself in the form of kidney symptoms : decreased blood flow during physical activity leads to sodium retention (one of the main by-products that the kidneys filter from the blood) and therefore decreased in the amount and frequency of urine. At rest, the increased flow motivates the elimination of accumulated sodium, thus increasing the flow and frequency again. In addition, right heart failure can cause increased tension in certain regions of the circulatory system, which can cause a range of symptoms that can be gastrointestinal and hepatic.
In any case, both heart failure (which can often occur simultaneously) can cause a number of common symptoms such as tachycardia, pulmonary rales, cardiac hypertrophy, the appearance of heart murmurs, edema in the lower extremities and venous distention.
How is it treated?
Treatment of heart failure relies primarily on addressing the underlying cause . For this reason, in a large majority of cases (in which it derives from ischemic heart disease, it will first go through the adoption of a series of healthy habits such as exercising, dietary changes, and abstaining from smoking or drink alcohol.
Additionally, to reduce the danger of insufficiency, the physician may prescribe a restriction on fluid intake, avoid certain medications, certain pharmacological treatments (diuretics, vasodilators and others), surgeries, implantation of pacemakers or implantable defibrillators, ventricular assist devices. and, in the most extreme cases, heart transplantation or its replacement by an artificial one.