Thursday, February 28, 2013

Treatment options for congestive heart failure

What are treatments for congestive heart failure? Heart failure is a chronic illness; successful management of heart failure can be done.  To be successful at managing your heart failure,  you must learn what to watch for and what your doctor wants you to do.  For example, one recommendation is to weigh daily.  If you gain weight several days in a row, the weight gain may be a symptom that your body is holding fluid (the heart failure is getting worse.)  Talk to your doctor and learn what he wants you to do when this happens. 

There are several types of medications which treat heart failure.  They include high blood pressure medications, diuretics (water pills), and heart medicines. 

Surgery may be needed to treat heart failure.  If a heart rhythm problem is the cause of the heart failure, a pacemaker or defibrillator pacemaker may improve quality of life greatly.  If the heart failure is caused by blocked coronary arteries (arteries which carry blood to the heart muscle itself), a coronary bypass surgery (CABG) may be recommended.  If a faulty heart valve causes the heart failure, surgery to repair or replace the valve may be needed.  You can find more information about heart failure at

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Prevention and diagnosis of congestive heart failure

Can we prevent congestive heart failure?  Doctors believe controlling risk factors for heart disease can help prevent heart failure.  These risk factors include high blood pressure, smoking, high cholesterol levels, diabetes, obesity, and coronary heart disease.   

Diagnosis of congestive heart failure.  My mom woke up one night gasping for air, her lips were bluish and you could hear her breathing across the room.  She called us, we raced to her house and met the ambulance.  The paramedics gave her oxygen and began medications during the ride to the hospital.  Within a few hours, she was feeling better.  Her initial treatment involved oxygen, medicines to regulate her heart rhythm and diuretic medication to get rid of the excess fluid in her body. 

Mom’s sudden onset and symptoms made diagnosis straight forward and obvious.  Sometimes it’s not so simple.  Diagnosis always begins with a medical history and a physical examination by a doctor/nurse practitioner. Tests which may be needed to diagnose heart failure include blood tests, an EKG (electrocardiogram), an echocardiogram, stress test, coronary angiogram, and a cardiac CT scan or MRI scan.  More information about congestive heart failure can be found at

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Symptoms of congestive heart failure

What are symptoms of congestive heart failure? Symptoms may begin suddenly after a heart attack.  But often the symptoms of heart failure begin slowly and build. You may notice being short of breath when active.  If untreated, the symptoms will probably get worse so that you have difficulty breathing when resting.  You may need to sleep on extra pillows at night because you can’t get enough oxygen. 

According to the National Institute of Health website, symptoms of heart failure include “cough, fatigue, weakness, faintness, loss of appetite, need to urinate at night, pulse that feels fast or irregular, or a sensation of feeling the heart beat (palpitations), shortness of breath when you are active or after you lie down, swollen (enlarged) liver or abdomen, swollen feet and ankles, waking up from sleep after a couple of hours due to shortness of breath, weight gain.”
For more information about symptoms of congestive heart failure, see

Friday, February 22, 2013

What happens with congestive heart failure?

What happens with congestive heart failure? The heart muscle cannot pump and squeeze enough blood out into the arteries.  This inadequate blood supply means not enough oxygen is being carried to the tissues throughout the body.  The second part of congestive heart failure involves the excess fluids that build up in the body tissues (like feet and legs) or organs (such as lungs, liver). Doctors refer to heart failure as “right sided” or “left sided”.  This refers to which side of the heart (right or left) is most affected.  If left untreated, both sides of the heart will probably be affected. 

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Congestive heart failure

Last year I talked about heart attack and stroke.  This information can be found at  The next several posts will discuss another type of heart disease called congestive heart failure.  What is Congestive heart disease?

Congestive heart failure (or heart failure) occurs when a person’s heart cannot pump enough blood to meet the body’s need.  Inadequate pumping could be due to damaged heart muscle from a heart attack, a heart valve problem or an infection (often viral) which weakens the heart muscle. Uncontrolled high blood pressure or an irregular, inefficient heart beat can cause heart failure.  Also a person can be born with a (Congenital) heart condition which may cause heart failure. 

Monday, February 18, 2013

February is Heart Month

Heart Disease causes 1 in every 4 female deaths in the United States (2009 numbers) Check out this Women and Heart Disease Fact Sheet from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to learn more about heart disease and the risk to women.   

Have you heard about WISEWOMAN program?  This program funds programs in 21 states and provides prevention screening services for high cholesterol and diabetes.  Lifestyle programs teach healthy behaviors such as good nutrition, physical activity, healthy cooking classes, and stop smoking classes.  You can find WISEWOMAN programs at

Million Hearts Is a national program whose goal is to prevent a million heart attacks and strokes by 2017. You can gain much knowledge from this website at