In heart failure, there is an inability to pump enough blood to the body. The heart may begin to enlarge and enlarge to tolerate this condition. This condition is also called heart enlargement. In addition, in case of heart failure, the heart may try to pump enough blood by contracting faster than the rhythm it should have. As a result, narrowing of the blood vessels occurs, which prevents sufficient blood from reaching important tissues and organs. As a result, damage to tissues and organs may occur due to the malfunctioning of the heart. There are many factors that can cause heart failure. One or more of these may play a role in the emergence of the disease. The coexistence of more than one of the mechanisms leading to heart failure increases the severity of the disease. Starting from the diagnosis of the disease, a treatment plan should be determined by considering its size, measures should be taken to prevent serious complications that may occur and to increase the quality of life.
What are the symptoms of heart failure?
Symptoms of heart failure include symptoms that become more severe as the severity of the disease increases and are similar in most patients. The most common symptoms can be listed as follows:
• Quick fatigue
• Loss of appetite
• Shortness of breath
• Sudden weight gain
• Chest pain
• Pink or white sputum production
• Irregularity in the pulse (arrhythmia)
• heart palpitations
• Swelling in the ankles, legs and abdomen (edema)
• Constant sleepiness and difficulty concentrating
• Frequent urination at night
• Clarification of blood vessels in the neck
What are the causes of heart failure?
In general, heart failure is a disease that occurs when the heart is damaged or weakened due to various reasons. Hardening of the ventricles, the heart's blood-pumping chambers, can cause the heart not to be fully filled with blood between beats, leading to heart failure. In addition, weakening or damage to the heart muscle causes the ventricles to enlarge, thus not being able to pump enough blood to reach all parts of the body in sufficient quantities. Genetic factors play an important role in the development of heart failure. Individuals with a family history of heart failure are more likely to develop this disease than other individuals. In addition, the factors that can be counted among the causes of heart failure are:
• Coronary artery disease
• Heart attack
• Diseases related to heart valves
• Heart muscle damage (cardiomyopathy)
• Congenital heart diseases
• Heart rhythm disorder (arrhythmia)
• Heart muscle inflammation (myocarditis)
• Presence of diabetes, thyroid diseases and viral infections such as HIV
• Alcohol and drug use
• Some drugs that are used continuously
What are the types of heart failure?
While heart failure can affect both sides of the heart, in some cases it only occurs on one side of the heart. In most cases, the left side of the heart is primarily affected. After systolic or diastolic failure of the left ventricle, the right side may also be affected, resulting in bilateral heart failure. In the type of heart failure, which is called congestive heart failure, there is accumulation of blood in some parts of the body due to the slowing of the blood's entry and exit to the heart. This condition causes swelling in the legs, ankles, and in some cases, the lungs, leading to various complications and shortness of breath. In addition to the types mentioned, heart failure has 2 different subtypes, either acute or chronic:
acute heart failure
Heart failure that develops in the form of sudden onset of symptoms and then rapid disappearance is called acute heart failure. This condition is usually seen in patients who have had a heart attack immediately after the attack and often occurs due to a number of problems with the heart valves.
chronic heart failure
Most cases of heart failure fall under the group of chronic heart failure. The symptoms seen in this type of heart failure are continuous and do not improve over time.
How is heart failure diagnosed?
In patients who apply to health institutions with the above symptoms, some diagnostic tests are applied to investigate heart functions after taking the medical history and physical examination. Echocardiogram is the most effective method used in the diagnosis of heart failure. With an echocardiogram, a detailed image of the heart can be obtained using sound waves. In this way, possible damages and structural disorders in the heart can be detected. A diagnosis can be made regarding the cause of the symptoms seen in the patient. Methods such as examining the areas where edema occurs in the body during physical examination, resting the heart rhythm and beating rate, and examining the swelling in the neck veins also help support the diagnosis. Since the symptoms of heart failure can be confused with a number of different heart and lung diseases, the treatment process of individuals diagnosed with heart failure should be started immediately after detailed diagnostic tests to distinguish such diseases are performed.
How is heart failure treated?
The primary aim of the treatment process in patients diagnosed with heart failure is to protect the current health status and prevent the progression of the disease stage, as well as to reduce the complications that negatively affect the daily life of the patient. Some surgical operations and drug treatments to be applied for this purpose are among the methods commonly used in treatment. Necessary drug treatments, lifestyle changes and medical nutrition therapy should be applied for conditions such as high blood pressure, arrhythmia, coronary artery disease, diabetes that cause heart failure or increase the severity of the disease. In most cases of heart failure, the physician recommends the use of heart failure drugs at the appropriate dose and frequency. These drugs help to improve heart functions and relieve problems such as shortness of breath and edema. In some cases, a pharmacological treatment plan, which will be formed as a combination of several drugs, may also be preferred, taking into account the patient's condition and the stage of the disease.
Another treatment option used in addition to drug therapy in heart failure is surgical interventions. Coronary bypass surgery, heart valve replacement and repair operations, pacemaker placement, heart transplantation, and stent and balloon operations applied to patients with occlusion and stenosis in the vessels are the main types of surgical operations used in the treatment of heart failure. The main purpose of these operations is to treat problems such as structural defects and stiffness in the heart as much as possible and to eliminate the factors that may cause the disease to worsen.
Heart failure is a serious life-threatening disease. However, it is quite possible to minimize the risks posed by the disease and to facilitate daily life in patients who are diagnosed early, comply with physician recommendations, and receive treatment. For this, individuals who are diagnosed with the disease should lead a more attentive and careful life in line with the recommendations of their physicians. If you are a heart failure patient or have some of the above-mentioned symptoms, you can immediately apply to a health institution and undergo a heart examination. If you are diagnosed with the disease, you can lead a healthy life by taking the necessary precautions in the early period, and you can take precautions against the negativities you may encounter in the future.