CHF stands for Congestive Heart Failure. CHF is a condition where the heart fails to pump blood properly hence the body’s blood supply gets affected. The body is not able to receive the amount of blood it needs.
The heart is a four-chambered organ divided into two atria in the upper half and two ventricles in the lower half. The atria receive blood from different parts of the body as part of the circulation and ventricles are responsible for pumping oxygenated blood to the body as it reaches the organs and tissues. During CHF, the normal circulation is affected and the body fails to receive the required amount of blood due to which the blood and other body fluids start building up around other organs.
Causes of CHF:
CHF occurs if there are any health troubles that involve the cardiovascular system. The first and foremost cause of being hypertensive.
Hypertension: This causes the narrowing of arteries which might increase the tension in vessels causing difficulty in blood flow.
Coronary Artery Disease: There will be narrowing of the walls of the arteries due to the deposition of cholesterol thus causing a problem in normal blood flow.
If there is any disorder of the valves of the heart and the valves fail to open and close properly then this will also affect the blood flow.
Other conditions which might cause CHF are Diabetes, Thyroid disorders, excessive alcohol intake, etc.
Types of Congestive Heart Failure:
Since the left side of the heart (the oxygenated blood travels from lungs to the left atrium and then to the left ventricle then is pumped to the rest of the body) is responsible for the more pumping action, heart failure is said to be as left-sided heart failure. They are:
Systolic Heart Failure: This takes place when the left ventricles do not contract normally thus by failing to push the blood into circulation properly. The heart cannot function normally if this force is not proper.
Diastolic Heart Failure: This happens when the muscles in the left ventricle harden. The heart-pumping action involves stiffening and relaxation. Since the ventricle fails to relax, the blood cannot be pumped properly.
The problem starts with the left part of the heart and if it is left untreated the disease progresses to the right side of the heart.
The physician will take a complete medical history － any past history of diabetes, hypertension, thyroid problems, chest pain, a heart attack will be noted carefully. The patient's surgical history in the past is also considered. This is followed by a physical examination where the physician will use a stethoscope to make sure there are no abnormal sounds in the chest. Physical looks for any signs of congestions, the examination of the veins, and any fluid buildup in the abdominal area are checked thoroughly. Once the medical examination is completed the patient undergoes a few tests to confirm the diagnosis.
These Tests Include:
Blood tests: This is done to make sure whether the patient is suffering from any disease that can affect the condition of the heart.
Chest X-ray: To note any abnormal fluid accumulation around the heart and lungs.
CT scan: CT scan gives a clear picture of any organ abnormality.
ECG: The electrical activity of the heart is recorded with the help of ECG.
Treadmill test: This is a kind of stress test in which the patient is advised to walk on a treadmill with wires attached to the chest and these wires are connected to a machine that records down the activity of heart and lungs at the time of exertion.
An Angiogram is conducted to rule out heart blockages.
Myocardial biopsy is some of the tests conducted to diagnose disorders of the muscles of the heart.
The treatment includes ACE inhibitors to open the narrowed heart vessels, beta-blockers are used to reduce the blood pressure, diuretics are recommended to reduce the fluid content of the body resulting in excretion of excess fluid from the body. The surgical aspect includes Angioplasty to open blockages of the arteries of the heart.
1. What are the 4 Stages of Congestive Heart Failure?
Ans: CHF progresses in 4 stages:
Stage 1- This can be managed with a few lifestyle modifications since it does not present with any presentable symptoms.
Stage 2- Some exertions might cause breathlessness, this also can be managed with lifestyle modification but careful monitoring is required to make sure symptoms don’t aggravate.
Stage 3- Symptoms of shortness of breath on slight activity and symptoms are worse than stage 2. Consulting with the cardiologist becomes of prime importance and oral medications are started.
Stage 4- Breathlessness is noted because even at rest and symptoms don't go away. Any kind of physical activity becomes difficult. This stage is not curable but medications are recommended to ease the symptoms.
2. What is the Life Expectancy with Congestive Heart Failure?
Ans: The life expectancy with CHF depends upon factors like severity, age, gender, and genetics.