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Heart Failure: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment and Cost

Last Updated: Jul 04, 2023

What is Heart Failure?

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When the heart's pumping capacity is reduced, a condition known as heart failure (HF) occurs. Many health problems, such as coronary artery disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes, might bring on this symptom.

In Heart Failure, the heart muscle does not contract properly and cannot fill with enough blood for it to pump out. As a result, the amount of oxygen-rich blood that reaches the body’s tissues is reduced, leading to fatigue and many other symptoms.

Types of Heart Failure

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Heart failure can be divided into several categories:

  • Systolic Heart Failure: This is the most common form of heart failure, caused by the heart’s inability to contract effectively, resulting in inadequate blood supply.
  • Diastolic Heart Failure: This type of heart failure occurs when the heart’s ability to relax between beats is impaired, leading to an inadequate amount of blood being pumped out.
  • Valvular Heart Disease: This is a group of conditions caused by damage to or abnormalities in one of the four valves that control blood flow from the heart chambers into the rest of the body (aortic valve, mitral valve, tricuspid valve and pulmonary valve).
  • Congenital Heart Defects: These conditions are congenital, meaning they exist from birth. They can range from minor issues such as a small hole between chambers to major problems such as missing valves in the heart that require timely treatment in order to avoid serious complications such as death.

What causes Heart Failure?

When the heart has to work harder to pump blood around the body, it can develop heart failure from hypertension.The situations that can all contribute to the development of heart failure are:

  • High blood pressure
  • coronary heart disease
  • Diabetes, etc

What are the symptoms of Heart Failure?

Some of the most typical signs of heart failure are:

  • Weakness in the ability to take a deep breath (especially when active or lying down)
  • Feelings of exhaustion and weakness
  • Symptoms including leg and foot swelling
  • Rapid or irregular heartbeat
  • Reduced ability to exercise
  • Having a persistent cough or wheezing and producing a lot of white, frothy mucus
  • Increased need to urinate at night
  • The accumulation of fluid in the abdomen (ascites)
  • A lack of appetite and queasy stomach.

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How can you prevent Heart Failure?

  • Exercise regularly: Regular physical activity helps keep your heart and arteries in good condition, prevent high blood pressure, and reduce the risk of heart failure.
  • Eat a healthy diet: Eating a balanced diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables and whole grains helps maintain a healthy weight and cholesterol levels, reducing the risk of heart failure
  • Quit smoking: Smoking is one of the main risk factors for developing heart failure, so quitting is essential to protect your health.
  • Control chronic conditions: If you have diabetes or high blood pressure, work with your doctor to manage them by taking prescribed medications as indicated and making lifestyle changes such as eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly.
  • Monitor symptoms: Be aware of any signs or symptoms that may indicate an increased risk for developing heart failure (such as shortness of breath or feeling tired).

Heart Failure - Diagnosis and Tests

Tests may include:

  • Physical exam: The doctor may also listen to your heart with a stethoscope for signs of fluid buildup in your lungs or an abnormal heartbeat.
  • Echocardiogram: The size, shape, and pumping strength of your heart can all be determined by this examination using sound waves.
  • Stress Test: You will run on a treadmill while your heart rate and rhythm are recorded. It can help detect areas of decreased blood flow in your heart muscle that may indicate reduced pumping strength.
  • Electrocardiogram (ECG): For an assessment of your heart's health, this test tracks electrical activity.. It can detect certain types of arrhythmias or other abnormalities that could indicate weakened cardiac function.
  • Complete Blood Count (CBC): The test evaluates the total number of cells in the blood, including red and white blood cells, as well as the haemoglobin concentration.This test can help detect anaemia, infection, or other conditions that may be causing heart failure.
  • B-type Natriuretic Peptide (BNP): This test is used to measure the levels of a hormone in the blood that is released by the heart in response to stress. High levels of BNP can indicate that the heart is not functioning properly and may be failing.
  • Serum Electrolytes: This test measures levels of sodium, potassium, chloride, and other electrolytes in the blood which can help diagnose any electrolyte imbalances that are contributing to heart failure symptoms.
  • Liver Function Tests: The levels of enzymes and proteins manufactured by the liver are evaluated, which can aid in the diagnosis of liver disorders that may be contributing to heart failure symptoms.
  • Cardiac Enzymes: These tests measure levels of enzymes in the blood which are released when there is damage to the heart muscle from a heart attack or other conditions such as congestive heart failure.
  • Kidney Function Tests: These tests measure levels of creatinine and urea in the blood which can help diagnose any kidney problems that could be contributing to heart failure symptoms.

What are possible complications of Heart Failure?

Heart failure can lead to a number of complications, including:

  • Abnormal heart rhythms (arrhythmias)
  • Fluid buildup in the lungs (pulmonary edema)
  • Fluid buildup in other parts of the body (peripheral edema)
  • Weakness and fatigue
  • Reduced ability to exercise
  • Swelling in the abdomen (ascites)

Home Remedies for Heart Failure?

  • Use Triphala: Triphala is a combination of three herbs called Amalaki, Bibhitaki, and Haritaki used to lower blood fat and cholesterol levels. This addresses the root causes of elevated blood fat and cholesterol levels, ensuring a healthy cardiovascular system.
  • Use Ashwagandha: It's a miracle herb for relieving stress and strengthening cardiac muscles.
  • Chyawanprash: Sugar, honey, ghee, Indian Gooseberry (amla), jam, sesame oil, berries, herbs, and spices are all part of this concoction. Heart health and immunity are both improved by eating chyawanprash, a herbal jam.

What to eat in Heart Failure?

Eating a balanced diet can help manage heart failure symptoms and reduce the risk of complications.

The following are some tips on what to eat when you have heart failure:

  • Healthy food: Eat foods that are low in sodium. This includes limiting or avoiding processed foods, canned soups, frozen dinners, cured meats, and fast food.
  • Fruits: Vegetable and fruit consumption should be increased.. Eating plenty of fresh produce is important for managing symptoms of heart failure and helping to reduce blood pressure.
  • Limit dairy products: Limit dairy products such as milk, cheese, butter, and yoghurt to only small amounts per day due to their high saturated fat content.
  • Avoid fried food: Avoid fried foods as much as possible due to their high fat content which can worsen heart failure symptoms like fatigue or shortness of breath if consumed in large amounts over time.
  • Limit caffeine: Limit caffeine consumption as it can increase heart rate and blood pressure which can worsen

What not to eat in Heart Failure?

  • Foods High in Sodium: Excessive sodium intake can cause your body to retain fluid, which puts extra strain on the heart.
  • Foods to avoid include processed and convenience foods such as cured meats, canned soups, frozen dinners, packaged mixes and condiments.
  • Foods High in Fat: Eating too much fat can increase your risk of developing high cholesterol, which can further contribute to heart disease and heart failure.
  • Foods High in Sugar: Sugary foods provide empty calories that offer little nutritional value while promoting weight gain which is a risk factor for heart disease.
  • Alcohol: Heavy alcohol consumption can weaken the heart muscle over time and increase blood pressure levels, both of which can lead to heart failure symptoms.

Which doctor to consult for Heart Failure?

If you are experiencing symptoms of heart failure, it is important to consult a cardiologist. This type of specialist is trained in diagnosing and managing heart conditions.

Heart Failure Treatment without surgery

Avoiding the necessity for open heart surgery is possible with the help of a number of noninvasive treatments for heart failure:-

  • Lifestyle Changes: Making simple lifestyle changes such as quitting smoking, eating healthy, exercising regularly, and reducing stress can help improve heart health and reduce symptoms of heart failure.
  • Medications: The symptoms of heart failure can be managed with medication, which works by lowering blood pressure and eliminating fluid retention. Additionally, these medications help prevent further damage to the heart muscle.

Which are the best medicines for Heart Failure?

The most effective treatments for heart failure change from patient to patient. Inhibitors of ACE, beta-blockers, diuretics, angiotensin receptor blocks (ARBs), calcium channel blockers, and aldosterone antagonists are the main classes of drugs used to treat heart failure.

What are the surgical treatments for Heart Failure?

Surgical treatment includes:-

  • Implantable Devices: Implantable devices such as pacemakers and defibrillators can be used to treat certain types of heart failure by helping regulate heartbeat and improving blood flow through the body.
  • Heart Transplants: In some cases where medications and device therapies have been ineffective in managing symptoms of heart failure, a heart transplant may be necessary. A transplant involves replacing the damaged or diseased heart with a healthy donor organ from another person.
  • Coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) surgery: By rerouting blood past clogged arteries, coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG) increases blood flow to the heart's muscle.
  • Valve repair or replacement: This procedure is done to restore the function of the valves of the heart. In some cases, a mechanical valve may be used instead of the patient’s own valve.
  • Implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD): An ICD is a device implanted under the skin that can detect abnormal heart rhythms and send an electrical shock to restore normal rhythm.
  • Left ventricular assist device (LVAD): An LVAD is an artificial pump that helps support weak or failing hearts by helping them pump blood through the body.
  • Cardiac resynchronization therapy (CRT): CRT is a procedure used to help coordinate contractions between the left and right sides of the heart, improving pumping efficiency and blood flow throughout the body.

How long does it take to recover from Heart Failure?

The answer to this question is conditional on the reason and degree of heart failure. The average time needed to recover after an illness or injury might be anywhere from a few weeks to many months, or even years. Most people can get better, however it may take a while and include permanent adjustments to their way of life and ongoing medical care.

Are the results of the treatment permanent?

The results of treatment for heart failure vary depending on the individual, but in general, the goal of treatment is to reduce symptoms and improve quality of life.Some treatments may have permanent benefits, while others may require ongoing maintenance or further interventions. It is important to work with a healthcare professional to determine the best approach for your individual situation.

What are the post-treatment guidelines?

  • Monitor your heart rate and blood pressure regularly to ensure that they remain within normal limits.
  • Take all of your prescribed medications as directed by your doctor, and do not skip or change doses without consulting them first.
  • Avoid drinking alcohol and smoking, as these can worsen your symptoms and increase the risk of complications associated with heart failure.
  • Seek medical attention immediately if you experience any signs or symptoms of heart failure, such as shortness of breath, chest pain, fatigue, or swelling in the legs or abdomen.

What is the cost of Heart Failure treatments in India?

  • The cost of heart failure treatments in India depends on a variety of factors, such as the type of treatment required, the hospital or clinic where the treatment is being provided, and the patient's medical condition.
  • Generally speaking, treatment for heart failure can range from 1000 rupees to several lakhs. Treatment costs also depend on whether the patient is undergoing medical or surgical treatments. In addition to this, some of the other costs that are associated with heart failure treatments include diagnostic tests, medications and follow-up care.

What are side-effects of Heart Failure treatments?

  • Fluid retention: Edema is a condition in which the legs, ankles, and feet expand due to an abnormal accumulation of fluid in the body.
  • Low blood pressure: As a result of lowering your blood pressure, several heart failure treatments can make you feel faint or dizzy when you stand up.
  • Fatigue: The fatigue associated with heart failure can be caused by a variety of factors, including low blood pressure and anaemia (low red blood cell count).
  • Abnormal heart rhythms: Heart failure treatments may also lead to arrhythmias (irregular or rapid heartbeat).
  • Reduced kidney function: Heart failure can cause reduced kidney function, leading to increased levels of creatinine and urea in the bloodstream.

Heart Failure - Outlook / Prognosis

Heart failure is a serious medical condition with a poor prognosis. Several factors influence the prognosis of heart failure, including the patient's age, current health status, and response to treatment.

The prognosis for people with heart failure is usually guarded, although some people may show improvement in their condition over time with the help of above treatments.

References

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Written ByDr. Rahul Gupta MD - Internal Medicine,MBBS,DM - Cardiology,Fellow European Society of CardiologyCardiology
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