People often think heart failure means heart attack, or the heart not working altogether. However, heart failure simply means the heart isn’t pumping blood as well as it should be. If the heart can’t properly circulate blood throughout the body, cells don’t get the oxygen they need which can lead to many side effects. Don’t wait to get your heart checked by a doctor, count on our cardiologists for heart failure treatment in New Jersey.
It’s important to know how the heart normally functions in order to understand the physical cause of heart failure. The heart is comprised of four chambers: the two atria on the top and two ventricles on the bottom. When it’s working properly, these chambers function in a very organized way and pump blood in a precise order for oxygen to get to the lungs, as well as other organs and tissue.
However, with congestive heart failure, the heart can’t keep up with the workload. Either the chamber walls of the heart are too thin and aren’t strong enough to pump enough blood, or they’re too thick and can’t fill enough blood in the chambers to supply to the rest of the body.
The heart and body will try and compensate with other methods such as enlarging the heart chambers to pump more blood, developing more muscle mass to pump more strongly, pumping faster, narrow vessels to regulate blood pressure, or prioritizing blood for important organs (the brain or lungs) from less important organs (kidneys). These may stabilize the symptoms of heart failure temporarily, but they ultimately will cause their own problems and may not treat heart failure in the long run.
Typically, heart failure is more common with age. More than 6 million people in the U.S. live with heart failure and typically are 65 years of age or older. This is because heart failure is usually a complication of another heart disease, and most people with those diseases are in this age group. The most common conditions that lead to heart failure are coronary artery disease, previous heart attack, and high blood pressure.
Symptoms of heart failure are usually caused by the body’s compensation for the heart’s weakness. Common symptoms include:
Talking to a cardiologist is the first step in heart failure diagnosis and treatment. If a patient complains about any of the above symptoms, their doctor will ask about medical history, and more information on symptoms and then conduct a physical exam. If the doctor believes there’s a chance heart failure is the problem, further tests may be taken including:
Most treatments are non-surgical and include medication, lifestyle changes, or just ongoing care. In severe cases, surgery or device implants may be necessary.
It’s important to know that while it is difficult to live with a chronic condition, many people go on to live happy and active lives. Typically, the people who get the full benefits of treatment and support are the patients willing to change their lives, stick to their treatment, and properly manage their condition.