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Patient Review Highlights
Alok Kumar Pandey
Our survival is solely reliant on the working of the heart. It is this that makes the prospect of a heart failure so fatal and so terrifying. Notwithstanding what the heart evokes, a heart failure is not indicative of a defunct heart; but only a situation when the heart pumps weaker than what is generally deemed as natural. Consequently, the blood flows at a slower rate to the heart and the body that in turn increases pressure in the heart. The oxygen that is produced by the heart in such a scenario is scanty and insufficient for the body.
body responds with its own defense mechanism, as the heart, in an attempt to hold more blood, stretches its chambers. Though this strenuous effort may keep the blood moving, it would gradually and inevitably weary the heart with all the effort. Subsequently, the kidney responds by retaining more salt and fluid in the body. These fluids may accumulate in different parts of the body, mainly in the legs, feet, ankles leading to congestion in the body. This very condition in medical terminology is referred to as congestive heart failure.
Different causes can contribute to the onset of such a fatal condition. Some of them are
- Coronary artery disease: In such a condition, the arteries supply insufficient amount of oxygen and blood to the heart. Subsequently, the heart receives scanty amount of nutrients and oxygen.
- Heart attack: The sudden, unanticipated blockage of the coronary artery and the ensuing stoppage of the flow of the blood lead to a heart attack. The heart muscles are damaged in such a case and prevent the proper functioning.
- Diseases: Though the term may be generic and over expansive, most of the ailments which people suffer from tend to manifest themselves by posing a potential threat to the functioning of the heart. A high blood pressure, kidney disease, even a thyroid disease can cause congestive heart failure.
Every disorder is preceded by certain symptoms, and congestive heart failure is no different. Some of them are
- Fatigue: This is one of the most perceptible symptoms of congestive heart failure. One of the earliest premonitions of an impending heart failure is a nagging sense of weariness and lethargy.
- Swelling: As the condition is characterized by accumulation and build-up of fluids in various part of the body, swelling is an inevitable symptom of this condition and a clear indication of the ailment.
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We're all guilty of making fun of snorers but sometimes this snoring can be a symptom of sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is a condition where breathing is not continuous and may start and stop many times while asleep. This affects the quality of your sleep and in turn can affect many aspects of your health including your cardiovascular health. Here's how:
High Blood Pressure
When a sleep apnea patient's breathing stops, the oxygen levels in the blood also suddenly fall. This can increase your blood pressure. High blood pressure means that the heart muscles need to work harder to pump blood through the body.
As a result of high blood pressure, the heart walls may become thicker and the heart muscles become stiffer. This is known as cardioyopathy. As this condition worsens, the heart becomes weaker and is unable to maintain a regular rhythm. This can eventually lead to heart failure.
An irregular heartbeat is also known as arrhythmia. This may also be related to the changes in the heart's structure that follow the drop in blood oxygen levels. In many cases, arrhythmia has no visible symptoms and can often go undiagnosed. This can result in the formation of blood clots in the atria which can lead to a stroke.
Sleep apnea is easy to diagnose. If the doctor feels that you show symptoms of sleep apnea, you may be asked to stay on the hospital overnight and undergo a sleep evaluation. This tests a variety of body functions including brain activity, eye movements, heart rate, breathing patterns and blood oxygen levels.
Treatment for sleep apnea depends on the causes for this condition. If you are overweight, regular exercise and a change in diet can help you lose the excess weight and cure sleep apnea. Similarly, if your sleep apnea is triggered by an allergy, treating the allergy can help cure the sleep apnea. Other forms of treatment for sleep apnea may include:
Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP)
This is a machine which pumps air into the body through a nasal mask. By keeping the pressure in the machine higher than normal air pressure the upper airway passages are kept open and hence the quality of your sleep is improved. An auto CPAP machine can modulate the air pressure such that it is higher when you inhale and lower when you exhale.;
Your doctor may suggest oral devices that allow you to keep your mouth open while you sleep. This is easier to use than CPAP machine but less effective.