What is heart failure? Causes, symptoms, risk factors, and treatments.

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heart failure

Heart failure is a condition in which the heart cannot pump enough blood to the rest of the body. Without adequate blood flow, all of the body’s major functions are compromised. Heart failure is a medical illness or group of symptoms that cause your heart to become weak or stiff.

The heart has trouble pumping enough blood to maintain the body’s other organs in some patients with heart failure. Other individuals may experience cardiac muscle stiffness and stiffening, obstructing or reducing blood flow to the heart.

Heart failure can occur on either the right or left side of the heart, or both. Acute (short-term) or chronic (ongoing) conditions are also possible.

Acute heart failure symptoms manifest abruptly but swiftly resolve. Following a heart attack, this syndrome may occur. Additionally, it could be caused by a malfunction with the heart valves that regulate blood flow in the heart.

Chronic heart failure is characterized by persistent symptoms that do not improve with time. The majority of people who suffer from heart failure do so long-term.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, around 6.2 million Americans live with heart failure (CDC). Men account for the vast majority of instances. However, when heart failure is left untreated, women are more likely to die from the condition.

Heart failure is a significant medical problem that requires immediate attention. Early intervention raises the likelihood of a full recovery with fewer problems. If you experience any of the signs of heart failure, contact your physician immediately.

What factors contribute to cardiac arrest?

The most common cause of heart failure is another underlying ailment. Coronary artery disease (CAD) is the most prevalent cause of heart failure. CAD is a condition in which the arteries that deliver blood and oxygen to the heart become narrowed. Additional risk factors for heart failure include the following:

  • cardiomyopathy, a cardiac muscle condition that results in a weak heart
  • cardiomyopathy congenital
  • convulsions
  • cardiomyopathy
  • a subset of arrhythmias, or abnormal heartbeats
  • hypertension –
  • lung condition called emphysema
  • sleep apnea that remains untreated
  • diabetes
  • thyroid hormones that are either too or insufficiently active
  • HIV
  • Severe anemias
  • chemotherapy, for example, certain cancer treatments
  • alcoholism and drug abuse

What types of heart failure exist?

Although there are numerous causes of heart failure, the condition is commonly classified as follows:

Heart failure is associated with a decrease in left ventricular function (HF-rEF)

Your heart’s lower left chamber (left ventricle) becomes larger. It cannot squeeze (contract) forcefully enough to pump the appropriate amount of oxygen-rich blood to the rest of your body.

Insufficiency of the heart with maintained left ventricular function (HF-pEF)

Although your heart contracts and pumps normally, the bottom chambers (ventricles) of your heart are thicker and stiffer than normal. As a result, your ventricles are unable to relax and fill fully. Because there is less blood in your ventricles, it pumps less blood to the rest of your body when your heart contracts.

Heart failure on the right

Additionally, cardiac failure can damage the right side of the heart. The most common cause of this is left-sided heart failure. Other possible causes include specific lung diseases and organ dysfunction.

What is heart failure with congestive heart failure?

This is a condition in which your heart cannot handle the volume of blood. This results in an accumulation of toxic substances in other areas of your body, most often your lungs and lower extremities (feet/legs).

What are the risks associated with heart failure?

Several problems of heart failure include the following:

  • An irregular heartbeat.
  • A cardiopulmonary arrest occurs unexpectedly.
  • Valve issues in the heart.
  • A buildup of fluid in the lungs.
  • Hypertension of the lungs.
  • Damage to the kidneys.
  • Damage to the liver.
  • Malnutrition

What role does the ejection fraction play?

Your ejection fraction (EF) is one parameter that can be used to determine the severity of your ailment. If it is lower than normal, it may indicate that you are suffering from heart failure. Your ejection fraction informs your healthcare practitioner about the efficiency with which your left or right ventricle pumps blood. Typically, your EF value refers to the amount of blood pumped out by your left ventricle, which is the primary pumping chamber of your heart.

Numerous non-invasive tests are available to determine your EF. Your healthcare professional can use this information to determine the best course of therapy for you or to determine whether a treatment is functioning as intended.

A normal left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF) ranges between 53% and 70%. For example, an LVEF of 65 percent indicates that 65 percent of the blood in your left ventricle is pumped out with each heartbeat. Your EF may fluctuate depending on your heart disease and the effectiveness of your treatment.

Is Heart Failure Treatable?

Heart failure patients now have more therapeutic options than ever before. The first measures involve strict supervision of your medications and lifestyle, as well as constant monitoring. As the situation worsens, physicians who specialize in heart failure treatment can give more advanced therapeutic choices.

The goals of heart failure treatment are to prevent it from worsening (by lowering the risk of mortality and hospitalization), to alleviate symptoms, and to enhance overall quality of life.

The following are some of the more often used medications to treat it:

  • Inhibitors of ACE (angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors)
  • Antagonists of aldosterone
  • The ARBs (angiotensin II receptor blockers)
  • The ARNIs (angiotensin receptor-neprilysin inhibitors)
  • Beta-blockers
  • Vasculature dilatant
  • Digoxin
  • Calcium channel antagonists
  • Diuretics
  • Medication for the heart pump
  • Magnesium or potassium
  • Inhibitors of the sinus node that are selective
  • Stimulator of soluble guanylate cyclase (sGC)

Additionally, your doctor may recommend cardiac rehabilitation to assist you in exercising safely and maintaining a heart-healthy lifestyle. It typically involves customized workouts, information, and strategies for lowering your risk of heart disease, such as quitting smoking or modifying your diet.

Cardiovascular rehabilitation also provides emotional assistance. You might meet others who are similar to you and can assist you in staying on track.