Heart failure, also called congestive heart failure (CHF), is a condition that occurs when the heart can no longer pump enough oxygenated blood to meet the needs of the body’s other organs. It can be long term (chronic) or come on suddenly (acute). The heart keeps pumping, but not as efficiently as a healthy heart. Usually, the heart’s diminished capacity to pump reflects a progressive, underlying condition.
What are the Symptoms of Congestive Heart Failure?
The most common presenting symptoms include shortness of breath during rest, exercise or lying flat, weight gain, visible swelling of the legs and ankles, fatigue and weakness, loss of appetite, nausea, abdominal pain and persistent cough. These symptoms may occur gradually over time or occur suddenly depending upon the cause.
What Causes Congestive Heart Failure?
The most common causes include coronary artery disease (blocked arteries), poorly controlled high blood pressure, leaky heart valves, previous heart attacks and certain irregular heart beats. There are a multitude of other less common causes, including cardiomyopathy, congenital heart disease, some medications, excessive sodium consumption, anemia, blood loss or complications form diabetes..
How does CHF affect the body?
Congestive heart failure interferes with the kidney’s normal function of eliminating excess sodium and waste products from the body. In congestive heart failure, the body retains more fluid, resulting in swelling of the ankles and legs. Fluid also collects in the lungs, which can cause profound shortness of breath.
How is CHF Diagnosed?
In addition to a complete medical history and physical examination, diagnostic procedures for congestive heart failure may include Chest X-Ray, Echocardiogram, Electrocardiogram and BNP testing. B-type natriuretic peptide (BNP) is a hormone released from the ventricles of the heart in response to increased wall tension that occurs in heart failure. BNP levels rise as wall stress increases. BNP levels are useful in the rapid evaluation of heart failure. In general, the higher the BNP levels, the worse the heart failure.
How is Congestive Heart Failure Treated?
Treatment for CHF depends on the root cause of the problem as well as your age, overall health, medical history, extent of the disease, tolerance for specific medications, procedures or therapies. One of the primary treatment options involves removing the residual fluid from the lungs with drugs called “diuretics”. Treatment with diuretics can be helpful in reducing the acute symptoms of CHF.
Longer term treatment includes angioplasty, placing a stent in the coronary artery and/or coronary artery bypass surgery as well as medications to control the blood pressure and the neurohormonal system.
The cause of the heart failure will determine the treatment protocol chosen. If the heart failure is caused by a valve disorder, then surgery may be performed. If the heart failure is caused by a disease, such as anemia, then the underlying disease will be treated. Although there is no cure for heart failure due to damaged heart muscle, many forms of treatment have been used to treat symptoms very effectively.
We encourage you to ask as many questions as necessary until you are confident that you understand your heart condition, medications or procedures you may be considering.
In her practice as a top heart doctor in Albuquerque, Dr. Michelle Khoo wants you to be informed, comfortable and confident about your treatment plan.
Quality Healthcare is at the Heart of Everything We Do.
To schedule a consultation with Dr. Khoo call 1-505-248-1802 or click here to request an appointment online.
Khoo & Associates Cardiology and Wellness is a boutique Cardiovascular Health & Wellness practice that is focused on delivering outstanding, comprehensive and ethical cardiovascular care to patients in Albuquerque and the surrounding counties of Bernalillo, Sandoval, Torrance and Valencia in New Mexico.
Our experienced and dedicated team offers our patients the combined collective experience and knowledge necessary to ensure the highest level of patient care in two convenient office locations – Downtown Albuquerque and Rio Rancho.