Heart Failure

Heart failure is a condition where the heart is not able to pump enough blood to meet the body’s requirements. In some cases, the heart is not able to fill up with enough blood while in other cases the heart is incapable of pumping blood with enough force to the rest of the body.  Right-side heart failure happens if the heart can’t pump adequate blood to the lungs to collect oxygen. Left-side heart failure happens if the heart is not able to pump adequate oxygen-rich blood to various parts of the body. Currently, no cure has been discovered for heart failure. The condition can however be managed through lifestyle changes or medications.

What is Systolic Heart Failure?

Systolic heart failure occurs when the left side of your heart doesn’t pump blood adequately out to the body. Systolic heart failure affects the left side of the heart. This is the chamber that pumps blood to the body.

What is Diastolic Heart Failure?

Diastolic heart failure refers to the decline in performance of one or both (left and right) ventricles during diastole (the cardiac cycle phase when the heart is relaxing and filling with incoming blood from the body).

 

Causes of Heart Failure

Causes of heart failure include:

Coronary Heart Disease

Coronary heart disease is characterized by building up of a waxy substance called plaque inside the coronary arteries. Plaque narrows down the arteries and minimizes blood flow to your heart muscles.

Diabetes

In diabetes, the body is not able to make enough insulin or fails to utilize its insulin properly. Over time, high blood sugar levels may weaken and damage the blood vessels around the heart and the heart muscles, leading to heart failure.

High Blood Pressure

Blood pressure refers to the force of blood pressing against the artery walls. If this pressure rises and remains high over time, it may weaken your heart and results to plaque buildup.

Other Heart Conditions or Diseases

Other causes of heart failure are conditions and diseases namely: arrhythmias, congenital heart defects, malfunctioning heart valves, alcohol abuse or cocaine, and other drug use.

Treatment of Heart Failure

Early diagnosis and treatment will help people with heart failure live longer and more active lives. Treatment for heart failure depends on the type and severity of the heart failure. The following are the common treatments for heart failure:

  • Heart-Healthy Lifestyle Changes
  • Heart-healthy lifestyle changes means heart-healthy eating, physical exercise, maintaining healthy weight, and avoiding smoking.

Medicines

The following medicines may be prescribed by your doctor depending on the type of heart failure, severity and your response to medication:

  • ACE inhibitors will lower your blood pressure and minimize strain on your heart.
  • Aldosterone antagonists will trigger expulsion of excess sodium through urine.
  • Angiotensin receptor blockers will relax your blood vessels hence lowering blood pressure.
  • Beta blockers will slow your heart rate thus lowering your blood pressure.
  • Digoxin will make your heart beat stronger and pump adequate blood.
  • Diuretics will reduce fluid buildup in the lungs and swelling in the limbs.
  • Isosorbide dinitrate/hydralazine hydrochloride will help to relax your blood vessels.

As heart failure becomes more severe, medicines and lifestyle changes may no longer manage your symptoms. You may ultimately need a medical procedure or surgery as advised by your doctor.

Left Sided Heart Failure

left sided heart failure

Right Sided Heart Failure

Right Sided Heart Failure

Pathophysiology on heart failure video