Congestive heart failure is a long term progressive medical condition that affects the function of your heart muscles. In this condition, fluid builds up in the heart, further causing it to pump inefficiently.
Having heart failure can be life-threatening. This decrease in cardiac output, the amount of blood that the heart pumps, is not adequate to circulate the blood returning to the heart from the body and lungs, causing fluid to leak from capillary blood vessels. This leads to the symptoms that may include shortness of breath, weakness, and swelling.
There are two types of CHF; the first one is left-sided. It is the most common type of CHF because the heart doesn’t pump blood properly throughout the body causing shortness of breathing.
On the other hand, right-sided CHF happens when the right ventricle is not able to pump blood to your lungs. As a result, blood accumulates in your blood vessels, which can cause edema and fluid retention in your legs, abdomen, and other major organs.
Heart failure may have the following symptoms:
- Shortness of breath
- Swelling of the legs
- Fast or irregular heartbeat
- Swelling of your abdomen (ascites)
- Lack of appetite
- Chest pain
Your doctor will first take a medical history and do a physical exam.
The following tests may be requested:
- Blood tests
- Chest X-ray
- Electrocardiogram (ECG)
- Stress test
- Cardiac computerized tomography (CT) scan
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
- Coronary angiogram
- Myocardial biopsy
How is it treated?
Your doctor may prescribe the following treatments:
- Angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors (ACE inhibitors)
- Diuretics or water pills
- Non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs