Do You Have a Weak Heart?

You may have heard of Congestive Heart Failure, but do you know about the signs, symptoms and treatment options? Dr. Nathan Ho, Interventional Cardiologist at Carson Tahoe Cardiology, takes a few minutes to explain Congestive Heart Failure and answer some popular questions about this serious condition.

What is Congestive Heart Failure?

Heart failure, also known as congestive heart failure (CHF), is a condition in which the heart is unable to pump enough blood to meet the body’s needs.  This may occur when the heart muscle is weaker than normal or when there is a defect in the heart preventing blood from getting out into circulation.  As a result of a weakened pump, extra fluid in the circulation system builds up in the lungs, the liver, around the eyes, and sometimes in the legs.  This is called fluid “congestion” hence the name “congestive heart failure.” Unfortunately, CHF is fairly common.  Around 5.8 million people in the United States have CHF, and 670,000 people are diagnosed each year. Sadly, approximately one in five people who have CHF die within one year of diagnosis.

What are the symptoms of CHF?

  • – Chest pain
  • – Fatigue and weakness
  • – Rapid or irregular heartbeat
  • – Shortness of breath (dyspnea) when you exert yourself or when you lie down
  • – Reduced ability to exercise
  • – Persistent cough or wheezing with white or pink blood-tinged phlegm
  • – Swelling in your abdomen, legs, ankles and feet
  • – Difficulty concentrating or decreased alertness

What are the risk factors for CHF?

  • – High blood pressure
  • – Coronary Artery Disease
  • – Heart attack
  • – Irregular heartbeat
  • – Diabetes
  • – Sleep Apnea
  • – Congenital Heart Defects
  • – Viruses
  • – Kidney conditions

How is CHF treated?

Although heart failure is a chronic disease needing lifelong management,  treatment may help improve signs and symptoms of heart failure, strengthen the heart, reduce complications and help people live longer.

The key to the treatment of heart failure is to address the underlying cause. For example, repairing a heart valve or controlling a fast heart rhythm may reverse heart failure. However, for most people, the treatment of heart failure involves a balance of the right medications, and in some cases, devices that help the heartbeat and contract properly.  Medication may also improve the signs and symptoms of heart failure and extend life expectancy.

Lifestyle changes, such as exercising, reducing salt intake, managing stress, treating depression, and especially losing weight, can improve the quality of life for people suffering from CHF.

How do I prevent CHF?

The best way to prevent heart failure is to control risk factors and conditions that cause heart failures, such as coronary artery disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes or obesity.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding Congestive Heart Failure, please contact your doctor. When in doubt, check it out.

This information was provided courtesy of Dr. Nathan Ho, Board Certified Interventional Cardiologist at Carson Tahoe Cardiology.