Burden of a failing heart

Burden of a failing heart

A heart attack occurs when the blood supply to a part of the heart muscle is abruptly cut off. This generally occurs because of the sudden formation of a blood clot inside the arteries that supply blood to the heart. A heart attack, be it big or small, is a life threatening event and warrants early treatment. The condition where the heart is unable to supply sufficient blood to meet the requirement of each and every organ is termed heart failure.

Causes of heart failure
* Lack of blood supply to the heart due to blockages in the blood vessels
* Disease of the heart muscles
*Long standing uncontrolled hypertension
*Narrowing or leakages in the heart valves
*Anaemia, thyrotoxicosis, fluid overload etc.
* Shortnes of breath
* Swollen ankles or legs
*Chest or arm discomfort
* Fatigue
* Loss of appetite
Necessary tests
* Chest x-ray
*  Electrocardiogram (ECG)
*  Echocardiogram
*Blood investigation like blood sugars, serum creatinine, serum electrolytes, NT Pro BNP
* Cardiac catheterization and coronary angiography
Find the real cause
Treatment of the underlying cause may range from surgery or angioplasty to open blocked or narrowed blood vessels in patients with coronary artery disease to medications to control high blood pressure, diabetes, correct anemia or thyroid disease. In addition, it’s particularly important to treat abnormal heart rhythms called arrhythmias in patients with heart failure.

Lifestyle change
*Modify daily activities and get enough rest to avoid stressing the heart
*Eat a heart-healthy diet that is low in sodium and fat
*Don’t smoke and avoid exposure to second-hand smoke
*Don’t drink alcohol or limit intake to no more than one drink, twice or thrice a week
* Lose weight
* Avoid or limit caffeine intake
*Get regular exercise
*Reduce stress
*Keep track of symptoms and report any changes
*Have regular checkups to monitor the condition

Procedures & surgery
* Coronary angioplasty (PTCA)
*Coronary resynchronization therapy — implantation of a pacemaker to synchronize the LV contraction
*Coronary artery bypass graft (CABG or ‘cabbage’) or angioplasty to prevent and treat heart failure caused by blocked arteries. During bypass surgery, blood vessels taken from another part of the body — usually the leg — are used to link the open parts of a blocked artery around the blockage
*Valve repair and replacement
*Heart reconstruction — Dorr procedure, anuerysmectomy
nArtificial hearts
*Heart transplantation — although a heart transplant may be the best option for patients with the most severe types of heart failure, this treatment is available to only a small number of people due to a shortage of donor hearts. Recent advances may make artificial heart transplantation an option in the future.

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