Nearly 5 million people in the united states are living with congestive heart failure, with approximately 550,00 new cases diagnosed every year. Congestive heart failure is a serious health condition affecting people of all ages. Our team of specialists at Reading Cardiology Associates offer advanced and comprehensive treatment plans to manage and treat congestive heart failure. Call us or book an appointment online to know how we can help you.

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What Is Congestive Heart Failure?

Congestive heart failure (CHF) is when the heart does not work efficiently and cannot pump enough blood to meet the body’s demands. This is because your blood moves slower, and your heart pressure increases. CHF occurs as a result of a weakened heart muscle. When the heart cannot pump properly, blood backs up, and fluid can collect in your lungs. When fluid builds up in the lungs, ankles, feet, legs and other body organs, your body can become congested. This causes shortness of breath. 

There are risk factors for developing CHF if you have a medical condition overworking the heart, such as hypertension, diabetes, arrhythmia, cardiomyopathy, diabetes and heart valve disease. Patients undergoing cancer treatment are also at risk of CHF. 

What Are Congestive Heart Failure Symptoms?

Symptoms may be mild to severe. You may also not have heart failure symptoms, or they may be ongoing (chronic) or start suddenly (acute). Signs and symptoms include:

  • Shortness of breath with activity or when lying down
  • Rapid or irregular heartbeat
  • Chest pain if a heart attack causes heart failure
  • Fatigue and weakness
  • Blue skin due to lack of oxygen
  • Very rapid weight gain due to fluid buildup
  • Swelling in the legs, ankles, and feet
  • Difficulty concentrating or decreased alertness
  • Difficulty exercising
  • Persistent cough or wheezing with white or pink blood-tinged mucus
  • Swelling of the belly area (abdomen), lack of appetite, and nausea
  • Need to urinate while resting at night 

What Causes Heart Failure (Congestive Heart Failure)?

You are more likely to have CHF when you are older. Various conditions can damage heart muscles. Including: 

  • Diabetes
  • Coronary artery disease 
  • Congenital heart disease (Heart issues present at birth) 
  • Heart attack
  • Cardiomyopathy
  • Arrhythmia
  • Hypertension (High blood pressure)
  • Obesity
  • Kidney disease
  • Smoking and recreational drug abuse
  • Chemotherapy 

You might have pulmonary oedema if your symptoms include coughing when lying down. Pulmonary oedema is a severe condition requiring immediate medical attention.

What Are the Complications of Heart Failure?

Complications include:

  • Kidney damage 
  • Liver damage
  • Heart valve problems 
  • Irregular heartbeat 
  • Malnutrition
  • Sudden cardiac arrest
  • A collection of fluid in your lungs
  • Pulmonary hypertension

What Are the Risk Factors for Heart Failure?

Certain conditions may increase your risk of developing CHF. There is a lower incidence of CHF in men than in women. Diseases that damage the heart increase risk of CHF, including: 

  • Coronary Artery Disease
  • Valve Disease
  • Sleep Apnea
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Emphysema
  • Diabetes
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Anemia

Lifestyle habits can also increase your risk of CHF, such as: 

  • Smoking
  • Eating foods high in fat or cholesterol
  • Lack of enough exercise
  • Having overweight or obesity

What Happens During a Congestive Heart Failure Evaluation?

When you come for a CHF evaluation, specialists at Reading Cardiology Associates conduct a detailed and comprehensive assessment. This helps our cardiologists to determine the cause of your symptoms and formulate an effective treatment plan personalised for your needs. 

Your evaluation will consist of a physical examination, an in-depth analysis of your symptoms and questions about your medical and family history and lifestyle habits. Your doctor may also recommend additional tests to assess heart function and health. They include:

  • Stress test
  • Chest X-rays 
  • Echocardiogram
  • EKG test
  • Blood tests 
  • Catheter catheterisation
  • Nt-pro b-type natriuretic peptide (BNP) blood test

How Is Congestive Heart Failure Treated?

CHF treatment enhances the quality of life. Our expert cardiologist at Reading Cardiology Associates customises treatment plans based on the cause of CHF, type of heart failure and severity of your condition. The goal of an early diagnosis and treatment plan is to help prevent or slow down CHF progression, improve quality of life and enable you to maintain your usual lifestyle. Your cardiologist will formulate the best treatment plan based on your needs. Treatment includes:

Lifestyle changes such as avoiding salt intake, caffeine, smoking and alcohol. Regular exercise and watching your weight can also help. Your cardiologist can also prescribe the following medications: 

  • Vasodilators 
  • ACE inhibitors 
  • Beta-blockers Diuretics 
  • Anticoagulants or antiplatelet 
  • Tranquilizers 
  • Aldosterone inhibitors

When CHF is severe, surgery is required to replace heart valves and open blocked arteries. For some patients, the doctor may recommend percutaneous coronary intervention, bypass surgery or the placement of a pacemaker or implantable cardioverter-defibrillator. A heart transplant is considered the last resort.

When Should I See a Doctor?

Seek immediate medical attention if you are experiencing the following signs and symptoms:

  • Sudden, severe shortness of breath and coughing up white or pink, foamy mucus
  • Rapid or irregular heartbeat associated with shortness of breath, chest pain or fainting
  • Chest pain
  • Fainting or severe weakness

How Does Heart Failure Affect the Quality of Life and Lifestyle?

Even if CHF can limit your activity, you may still enjoy your life with the proper treatment and care. How well you feel depends on the following factors: 

  • If you are responding well to your treatment plan
  • Whether you are following your treatment plan
  • How well your heart muscle is working
  • The severity of your symptoms
  • Taking your medication as instructed
  • Consuming a low sodium diet
  • Being active as instructed 
  • Reporting any new symptoms
  • Tracking and reporting worsening symptoms
  • Attending regular, follow-up appointments
  • Keep a positive attitude

Congestive heart failure can be managed with the proper treatment, and modifying or eliminating lifestyle habits can enable you to live a healthy, active and fulfilling life. Contact Reading Cardiology Associates or schedule an appointment online today for more information.