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Understanding congestive heart failure

Understanding congestive heart failure

New Delhi: Heart failure is the term used for the condition describing the inability of the heart to keep up with the demands on it, specifically the failure of the heart to pump blood with normal efficiency.

When this occurs, the heart is unable to provide adequate blood flow to other organs such as the brain, liver and kidneys. Heart failure may be due to failure of the right or left or both ventricles.

When the blood flowing out of the heart is slower in comparison to the blood being brought in through the veins, the blood starts backing up causing congestion in the tissues and organs of the body. Due to this, different parts of the body such as the liver, abdomen, legs may develop swelling or edema.

Heart failures that cause this congestion are known as congestive heart failure. Reduce or blockage in regular ventricular function is characteristic of congestive heart failure.

“The most common symptoms of congestive heart failure are shortness of breath, swelling of legs especially in the evening, swelling of the abdomen or ascites, chest pain, and excessive tiredness. This condition can be caused by ailments such as coronary artery disease, valvular heart disease, or primary muscle disease,” said Dr Ram Anil Raj, Senior Consultant, Interventional Cardiologist, BGS Gleneagles Global Hospitals.

Additionally, conditions like myocardial infarctions can compromise heart function, leading to the development of this condition. Risk factors like hypertension, diabetes, obesity, and excessive intake of alcohol and tobacco can increase the chances of a person developing this condition. If left untreated, this condition could bring upon further complications such as kidney damage, liver damage, and cardiac problems.

When treating this condition, the medical team must first address and manage the primary cause. General treatment includes a salt restricted diet and fluid restricted diet.

Specific therapy, depending on the symptoms and severity include administration of drugs like ACE inhibitors, Beta blockers, Aldosterone antagonist. A pacemaker like device called cardiac resynchronization device therapy (CRT) is now available to improve the heart function.

This implantable device delivers synchronized electrical stimulation to three chambers of the heart, enabling the heart to pump blood more efficiently throughout the body.

Modern medical science has also facilitated the transplantation of a heart from brain-dead donors, which is a definitive way of treating congestive heart failure. (ANI)