What is Heart failure? Take charge of the journey from diagnosis to treatment.

Did you know that heart failure begins as a minor condition?

At first, we may not feel worn out or out of breath. And unlike a heart attack, it is not a sudden event. Nevertheless, the mild condition can worsen so much that doing everyday activities becomes challenging because the heart fails to function as effectively as it should.

Better late than never, we should explore all the important facts about heart failure and never overlook any early indications. To feel more in charge of our life, we need to have a good grasp of everything-from diagnosis to treatment options. Let’s begin our journey of making informed heart-friendly decisions.

What is heart failure?

If you experience heart failure, it doesn’t mean that your heart has  “failed” or suddenly stopped beating. Instead, it refers to the condition when the heart is not properly pumping blood. As a result, the heart delays blood circulation throughout the body.

Consequently, fluid builds up in the body, and the organs do not receive the necessary quantity of blood. In other words, the heart does not function as effectively as it could.

What are the symptoms of heart failure?

When your heart is not properly pumping blood, you might not initially experience any symptoms. However, when the condition worsens, it may result in:

  • Fatigue or weakness, or starting to feel faint or dizzy
  • Trouble in breathing can make you less active
  • An increased heartbeat even when you’re resting
  • Swelling in your tummy or your feet, ankles, or legs

Is there a test for heart failure?

Absolutely. Your doctor will examine you and may recommend one of the following tests if they suspect you may have heart failure:

Electrocardiogram (ECG)

This test detects the electrical activity in the heart and indicates whether you have an irregular heartbeat or have already experienced a heart attack.

Brain natriuretic peptide (BNP) or N-terminal pro-BNP (NT-proBNP) blood testing

Individuals with heart failure have high BNP or NT-proBNP levels.

Chest X-ray

A chest X-ray shows the presence of fluid in the lungs. Additionally, it reveals the big blood vessels and the basic structure of the heart.

Echocardiogram

Echocardiography produces an image of your heart activity using sound waves. It displays the size of the chambers in the heart, the efficiency of the heart’s circulation, and the functionality of the heart valves.

Stress test

A stress test may require running or walking on a treadmill while performing an ECG or other heart examinations. As the heart needs more blood when exercising, doctors use this test to determine whether the heart receives enough blood under stress.

Cardiac Catheterization

It is a procedure in which a doctor inserts a small tube into a blood vessel in your neck, arm, leg, or another body part. Next, the doctor takes measurements to check whether any of your heart’s arteries are clogged or narrowed.

How is heart failure treated?

There are several ways to manage heart failure, but medications and surgical interventions are essential for keeping the condition under control.

  • Medication can lower your risk of requiring hospitalization or experiencing a heart attack. Additionally, it can lessen or eliminate your symptoms.
  • Other interventions include surgery to enhance blood flow to the heart by using devices that enable the heart to pump more forcefully or at the proper rhythm.

What can I do to protect my heart?

You’ll feel at ease and lower the likelihood of developing heart failure if you follow these suggestions:

  • Even if you are OK, take your medications. Your doctor will prescribe medications to improve your heart health. However, the effectiveness depends on whether you consume them as directed by your doctor.
  • Build an action plan on what to do if your symptoms vary. Keep a close eye on your symptoms and act immediately if your symptoms worsen.
  • If your weight increases by at least 1 kg in a single day or at least 2 kgs in a single week, it can be a symptom that your body is retaining too much fluid.
  • If you are overweight, lose weight because doing so will make it easier for your heart to maintain pace with your body’s requirements.
  • Reduce salt intake. Stay away from packaged food items unless the labels indicate low salt content. The best food option for heart patients is freshly prepared meals.
  • Stop smoking because it worsens heart failure and increases the risk of a heart attack.
  • Avoid drinking – Alcohol is unhealthy for your heart, especially if you have previous heart disease.
  • Be active and ask your doctor what sports are safe for you to participate in. But if your symptoms cause a lot of discomforts, avoid exercising.
  • Before using any new medications or supplements, consult your cardiologist. A few over-the-counter, pharmaceutical, “natural” therapies and dietary supplements are harmful to those with heart failure. Examples of medications that can worsen heart conditions include ibuprofen (brand names like Advil and Motrin, and Naproxen (brand names like Aleve).

In conclusion, your heart’s health is in your hands. Even though heart failure impacts the arteries leading to your heart, there are measures you can either take precautionary measures or adopt a healthy lifestyle that prevents the complications of heart failure. Simply put, you are in charge of your heart.

If you experience any symptoms related to heart conditions, don’t delay consulting your doctor. Receiving the proper medical treatment and care is the only way to steer clear of any related medical complications.

To book an appointment with our team of expert cardiologists, contact us at +91-9540 114 114.

Share
Published by
SSB Heart and Multispecialty Hospital