Congestive Heart Failure: Help, Support and Overcome
Congestive Heart Failure Overview
Congestive heart failure or simply heart failure is a pathophysiologic state of the heart in which it fails to pump blood at the required rate. This condition of the heart may or may not be easily detectable. A condition of congestive heart failure necessarily causes the failure of circulatory function of the blood but the reverse is not necessarily true. Generally, it so happens that the heart itself tries to compensate to increase the blood volume resulting in an increased heart rate, cardiac muscle mass and cardiac filling pressure. But, this cannot go on for long and the heart begins to lose its ability to relax and contract properly and slowly the heart condition begins to worsen.
The congestive heart failure is generally worse in female patients since they are usually diagnosed at a very late stage. And, it gradually worsens with age, especially after the age of 55 years. It has been observed that people who are vegetarians have a better chance of surviving against congestive heart failure, than their non-vegetarian counterparts. In the US, it has been found that African Americans and Native Americans are more at risk than Caucasian Americans.
Based on the conditions and symptoms, the heart disease is categorized under 4 different stages: Stage A, where there is a high risk of heart failure but no actual disease or symptom of a heart condition. Stage B, where there may be a structural heart condition, but no heart failure. Stage C, where there is a heart condition and heart failure symptoms as well. Stage D, where the heart failure requires specialized and professional aid, intervention and possible surgery.
Help and Support for Congestive Heart Failure
The blood pumping efficiency of the heart can be impaired by a number of diseases which may lead to the congestive heart failure. Some of the most common causes of this condition in the US are hypertension or high blood pressure, coronary artery failure disease, long term alcohol abuse, valve malfunction or disorders, and a vast array of seemingly unknown causes that may affect the health of the heart.
A congestive heart failure can be marked by a number of symptoms like swelling in the legs, reduction in physical capacity, shortness of breath and swelling in the abdomen. The major diagnostic techniques that are used to identify the condition of a heart failure are blood tests and echocardiography.
The treatment of heart failure may include intake of certain medications or surgery. Generally, therapies involve cardiac resychronization (CRT), valve replacement, heart transplant, ventricular restoration or VADs. These surgical methods are a last resort and certain cases may simply be advised to take certain ACE inhibitors such as lisinopril, captopril and beta blockers.
Overcome Congestive Heart Failure
The treatment of a heart condition generally consists of prolonged medication that may last even a life time. Some significant lifestyle changes may also be involved in the treatment depending on the condition of the patient. These lifestyle measures may include smoking cessation, decrease in salt consumption, light exercising and installation of mechanical devices in the heart via a surgery. Recent advancements in medicine has allowed for the development of medications that not only improve symptoms but also enhance the chances of survival. Medications like ACE inhibitors, beta blockers, digoxin and various diuretics play an important role in treatment of congestive heart failure.
Surgery may provide immediate respite but medication and lifestyle changes cannot be ignored. Joining self help groups helps the patients to share their experiences and recover faster. The side effects of the medications may include a less active lifestyle and control over obesity. Mentally, the patients need to free themselves from tension causing events, and for this they need full support of friends and family as the treatment generally lasts a lifetime.