Causes of Heart Failure
Heart failure generally occurs when the heart is damaged or weakened due to various reasons. 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 of the heart valves
- Heart muscle damage (Cardiomyopathy)
- Congenital heart diseases
- Heart rhythm disorder (Arrhythmia)
- Inflammation of the heart muscle (Myocarditis)
- Presence of diabetes, thyroid diseases, and viral infections such as HIV
- Alcohol and drug use
- Some medications that are used regularly
Symptoms of Heart Failure:
The two main symptoms of heart failure are edema due to fluid accumulation in the body and shortness of breath. Most often, in cases of signs of heart failure,
- Shortness of breath,
- Early fatigue,
- Constant feeling of tiredness
- Poor performance,
- Not being able to reach the number of stairs that can be climbed before,
- Lack of energy,
- Chest pain,
- Cough and
- Complaints such as the need to urinate at night are seen.
Besides these, edema and swelling of the feet are experienced. The need to use more than one pillow is felt while lying down. Sometimes fluid can accumulate in the abdomen. It can cause a loss of appetite. In the future, it will also disrupt the absorption of the intestines. At first, there is weight gain due to edema, but in advanced stages, weight loss begins with a loss of appetite due to the filling of the liquid in the abdomen.
Diagnosis of Heart Failure
If you are experiencing symptoms of heart failure, your doctor may perform a physical exam and order tests, including:
Echocardiogram: This test uses sound waves to create an image of your heart and can show how well your heart is pumping.
Electrocardiogram (ECG): This test measures the electrical activity of your heart and can detect abnormalities.
Chest X-ray: This test can show if your heart is enlarged or if there is fluid buildup in the lungs.
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 this type of heart failure, which is called congestive heart failure, there is an 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 two different subtypes, either acute or chronic:
Acute Heart Failure
Heart failure that develops in the form of a 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 category of chronic heart failure. The symptoms seen in this type of heart failure are continuous and do not improve over time.
What are the Stages of Heart Failure?
There are four stages of heart failure, and we can list these stages as follows:
Stage A: Although there are risk factors for heart failure such as high blood pressure and atherosclerosis, no significant damage has occurred to the heart yet.
Stage B: There is damage to the heart with heart failure risk factors, but no signs or complaints related to heart failure have occurred yet (silent heart failure).
Stage C: Signs of heart failure have started with damage to the patient's heart (clinical heart failure).
Stage D: The patient has heart damage, has signs of heart failure, and often has difficulty controlling symptoms (advanced heart failure).
Treatment of Heart Failure
Treatment for heart failure can vary depending on the severity of the condition, but it can include:
Lifestyle changes: This can include losing weight, quitting smoking, and eating a healthy diet.
Medications: Medications such as ACE inhibitors, beta-blockers, and diuretics can help improve heart function and reduce symptoms.
Medical procedures: Procedures such as cardiac resynchronization therapy or implantable cardioverter defibrillators can help improve heart function and reduce the risk of sudden cardiac arrest.
Surgery: In some cases, surgery, such as a heart transplant or coronary artery bypass surgery, may be necessary.
Prevention of Heart Failure
Having a healthy lifestyle is extremely important when fighting heart failure. These include maintaining weight control, staying away from stressors, consuming foods that are beneficial for heart health, avoiding alcohol and tobacco products, and consuming excessively salty and fatty foods. Exercise is also very beneficial for heart health. Regularly doing walking and similar activities lowers the heart rate, lowers blood pressure, and ultimately increases the heart's contractility. In addition, regular exercise prevents obesity, which is another risk factor, and increases the person's quality of life.