What is Congestive heart failure?
Congestive heart failure is a medical condition where the heart is not able to supply blood adequately round the heart. This tends to place a limit on the body for instance, there is a limit to the kind of exercise you can do, as there could be strain on the heart. Common causes of heart failure are- irregular or strangulated supply of blood to the heart muscles (myocardial infarction- which may make part of the heart muscles to die due to inadequate oxygen supply ), coronary heart diseases, arteriosclerosis, high blood pressure, valvular heart diseases, alcoholism, cardiomyopathy with unknown causes etc.
A failing heart may try to compensate for the inadequacies by making the chambers to stretch in order to hold more blood for transport round the body. In extreme cases, the kidney may respond by retaining more fluid in the general circulation.
Congestive Heart failure is of two types namely:
- Heart failure due to left ventricular dysfunction
- Heart failure with normal ejection fraction.
Ejection fraction is the amount of outbound blood pumped from the heart with each cardiac cycle.
The severity of heart failure may be determined by testing the ability of the patient on how far he or she can exercise within a given frame of time.
One of the first signs of congestive heart failure is that fluids build up within the lungs, abdomen, liver and the limbs. When fluids build up in the lungs or the pleural cavity, breathing becomes difficult; when fluids builds up within the limbs, it becomes edema, this may be confirmed by pitting fingers against the limbs affected which shows a depression on the skin.
Patients who are hypertensive, obese, drink alcohol or smoke are at a higher risk of developing a congestive heart failure.
Symptoms of congestive heart failure
Congestive heart failure symptoms may be very similar to other conditions such as high blood pressure, kidney failure, diabetes and those with valvular diseases, however the following symptoms are noticeable in patients who develops congestive heart failure:
- Fluid and water retention. Swelling in the ankles, knee, and your legs due to water retention as a result of less blood flow to the lungs. Fluid retention in the stomach may cause bloating with a sense of fullness around the abdominal region. Fluid retention in the brain may cause dizziness and confusion. This may lead to abnormal bloating of the head in children.
- Your weight increases abysmally.
- Profuse sweating especially at night in the presence of adequate cross-ventilation.
The following congestive heart failure symptoms show up in complicated cases:
- This is a whispering kind of breathing.
- Shortness of breath. This results from pulmonary edema (accumulation of fluids around and inside the lungs).
- You skin turns pale, or it turns blue due to inadequate oxygen supply to the body.
- Rapid breathing in advance cases. This tries to compensate for the inadequate oxygen.
- Irregular heart-beats.
- Chest pain. This may spread to the upper body, mostly noticeable around the neck region as well as the shoulders.
- Congested lungs. Dry cough may result from a congested lungs.
All these aforementioned congestive heart failures symptoms are evidences of imminent cardiac arrest if the supply of blood to the heart muscle and around the body is severed for a long period of time. Death may happen in extreme cases where all the underlying symptoms had been mistaken for another disease or medical condition.