Heart failure occurs when the heart does not pump blood well and, consequently, it flows with delay by our body. When this occurs the body fluid accumulates and organs do not get all the blood they need.
Heart Failure: Symptoms
Before heart failure symptoms may get worse as time goes on manifesting itself as:
- Fatigue, weakness or dizziness
- breathing problems and therefore reducing the level of activity. To soften this symptom is recommended to add more pillows to sleep at night.
- heartbeat even when the patient is quiet.
- Swelling of the feet, ankles and legs or stomach.
Heart failure: Diagnosis
When the specialist in Internal Medicine raises the possibility of existing heart failure do an exam and may request the following tests:
- Electrocardiogram (ECG) to see if there is any abnormality in heart rate or in the past suffered a heart attack.
- "Brain natriuretic peptide" or "N-terminal prohormone brain natriuretic peptide", a blood test to measure the rate of this protein. With heart failure BNP levels they are higher than usual.
- Chest radiography and thus detect the presence of fluid in the lungs and control the shape and size of the heart and major blood vessels of the chest.
- Echocardiogram to examine the heart as it beats, see the size of the heart chambers, if pumping is sufficient and functioning of the heart valves.
- Stress test during which the patient may be walking or running on a treadmill while you perform an ECG or other heart tests. During exercise the heart needs more blood and beats faster, thus doctors see if the heart is getting enough blood.
- Cardiac catheterization. Dr. include a thin tube into a blood vessel in the leg or arm and move to the heart or blood vessels to take action in this part. You may also want to specialist coronary angiography that involves injecting a dye into the tube shown in x-rays to see if any of the arteries of the heart is totally or partially blocked.
Prevention of heart failure
- Take your medicine even though it feels good. Prescription drugs will help you live better and longer, but will only work if you take them as recommended by your doctor.
- Create a list of instructions, always accessible, on what actions to take if symptoms change, in addition to weigh yourself every day. If symptoms worsen or suddenly gain weight should take action.
- Call your doctor if you gain weight suddenly. Every morning after urinating and before breakfast, weigh. Try to wear always the same amount of clothing and record your weight on a calendar. Notify your specialist if you upload a kilo in a day or two or more in a week. In a patient with heart failure, sudden weight gain is a clear sign that your body is retaining too much fluid and you may need to change your medicines.
- Reduce salt intake. Avoid foods that come in boxes or cans, unless stated on the labels that are low in sodium. The recommendation is to take fresh or frozen and fresh food that you prepare yourself. Ask your doctor how much salt to eat, it may also limit the amount of liquid.
- If you are overweight lose weight. If you have your heart must work harder than usual to meet the needs of your body.
- Stop smoking. The snuff worsening heart failure and increases the chances of suffering a heart attack or die.
- Limit intake of alcohol. If women do not consume more than one drink a day. If man does not drink more than two.
- Be physically active. Your doctor will tell you what activities are safe for your case. Walking or cycling most days of the week are the usual recommendations to soften the symptoms. To perform them if you encounter any discomfort, do not make them.
- If you want to incorporate some new change in your life like taking a medication or supplement more please consult your doctor. For example, certain NSAIDs may worsen your heart failure.
Heart failure: treatment
Currently, there are numerous treatments for heart failure. Follow the right is the key to controlling the patient's suffering, alleviate or eliminate symptoms or pathology aggravation. If you think the treatment is expensive, ask your doctor to provide alternatives and reduce their cost. If you notice side effects or other problems taking medications there is a possibility that your technician will not change or will decrease the dose.
Other treatments are devices that help the heart pump blood more force or at the right pace or surgery to improve blood flow or even replace the heart.
If you have heart failure, the heart does not mean that "failed" or stopped beating, but it does not work as it should.