When Your Pump Fails

by Dr. Fernando Boccalandro

 

As seen in the Odessa American Medical Matters:  http://www.oaoa.com/people/health/medical_matters/article_81202e92-8516-11e7-8a91-57b71afd1822.html

Heart failure, also known as congestive heart failure (CHF) is a very common problem. It occurs when the heart muscle cannot pump blood to provide the rest of the organs with adequate blood supply. This happens when the heart is too weak to pump, when it becomes to stiff to fill properly with blood between heartbeats or both.

Many conditions such as coronary artery disease, hypertension, atrial fibrillation, obstructive sleep apnea, thyroid disorders, recreational drugs, alcohol use, medications, viral diseases and valvular heart problems can lead to heart failure. Patients with heart failure can have complaints of shortness of breath with activity or while laying down, fatigue, cough with white or pink-tinged phlegm, weight gain due to fluid retention, lack of appetite and an increased need to urinate during the night.

The term congestive heart failure comes from the inability of the heart to pump blood, resulting in blood backing up into (or congesting) the abdomen, lower extremities and lungs. Half of the patients with heart failure may present with only fatigue, shortness of breath or weakness and no fluid congestion.

Not all conditions that lead to heart failure can be reversed, but appropriate therapy can improve the longevity and quality of life of patients with heart failure. Lifestyle changes such as exercising, reducing salt, controlling the patient fluid intake, managing stress and losing weight can make a great difference.

To be able to manage heart failure successfully, it is recommended to follow-up with a cardiologist who will select the best mode of therapy and coach the patient regarding the disease process. The management of heart failure also requires a very active and collaborative participation of the patient and family members to comply with the physician recommendations. The goal to prevent disease progression, reduce mortality and achieve a favorable outcome.

If you or someone you care about is experiencing symptoms, please be proactive about visiting your physician. Early diagnosis provides an opportunity for disease management.