Heart Failure

  • The heart is not pumping blood efficiently
  • May be chronic or acute
  • Increasingly common as population gets older
  • Lifestyle changes can improve signs and symptoms

 

Causes

Heart failure often happens when other conditions have damaged or weakened the heart or if the heart becomes too stiff. In both instances, the heart does not pump blood efficiently throughout the body. Over time, the heart is not able to keep up with the body’s normal demand for blood. To measure and classify heart failure and its treatment, an ejection fraction is employed.
heart failure 1

 

Types of heart failure Description
Left sided heart failure Shortness of breath caused by fluid build up in lungs
Right sided heart failure Fluid build up in the abdomen causing legs and feet to swell
Systolic heart failure Left ventricle cannot contract vigorously indicating a pumping problem
Diastolic heart failure Left ventricle cannot fill or relax fully, indicating a filling problem

 

5 Steps in dealing with Heart Failure

1. Record your weight, blood pressure and pulse daily

  • If there is an increase of 2kg within 48 hours, call your doctor
  • For weight gain of more than 2kg within 48 hours, proceed to a hospital with your medications
  • Swelling in your ankles, legs and around the waist may indicate fluid retention and could be more noticeable than weight change

2. Follow through on taking medicine as instructed

  • Even after feeling better, continue to take your medication as instructed by your doctor
  • Medication seeks to prevent heart failure from progressing, improve symptoms and quality of life

3. Avoid caffeine, alcohol and tobacco

  • It is highly recommended to stop smoking
  • Consumption of tea and coffee should be in moderate amounts
  • Excessive alcohol consumption is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease and certain types of heart failure

4. Practice a low-salt diet

  • Too much sodium in the diet can cause fluids to build up in tissues leading to swelling and breathlessness

5. Staying physically active

  • Performing regular physical activities will keep the heart active, gradually increasing stamina and improve quality of life
  • Moderate rhythmic exercise such as brisk walking, cycling and swimming is recommended
  • Activities that require sudden and heavy physical strain should be avoided

 

Treatment

Heart failure requires lifelong management. For most people, treatment of heart failure requires the right balance of medication and activities to alleviate symptoms. In other cases, doctors will need to investigate any underlying cause or even use of devices to help the heart function properly.

 

Cardiology specialists

For more information relating to heart failure or cardiology, please view the profiles below: