Heart Failure: Types, Symptoms, Causes, and Treatments

Heart failure is a terrifying condition that is eventually occurring more commonly in people these days. However, unlike the name suggests, the heart does not fail or stop working. Rather it malfunctions. In this condition, the heart cannot pump blood as much as it is supposed to do.

Even though it is more common in older people, even the younger ones suffer from it.

Not all heart failures are the same, but they have some variations.

  • Right-side heart failure-The heart’s right ventricle is supposed to pump blood to the lungs and collect oxygen from the lungs. In most cases of right-sided failure, it occurs as a failure of the left ventricle. It creates pressure due to the increase of fluids. It might also occur due to prolonged lung illness. As a result, there can be swelling in the ankle, feet, and legs.
  • Left-sided heart failure- The left ventricle supplies oxygen-rich blood to most of our body parts. But when the left ventricle does not work properly, it prevents the body parts from getting blood and oxygen. As a result, it causes building up of the fluid in the lungs and shortness of breath.
  • Systolic heart failure- To pump oxygen in the body, our heart muscles must contract. But when the heart muscles can’t contract, it causes a heart failure known as systolic heart failure. People with a heart enlarged or weak or diseased heart are more prone to have this type of heart failure.
  • Diastolic heart failure- In this condition, the heart cannot fill itself with blood. The heart tissues become stiff and rigid due to some heart illness. Further, this results in a lack of blood flow to the rest of the body.
    Congestive heart failure- occurs when the ventricles cannot pump enough blood as the body requires. As a result, fluids and blood collect in the lungs, abdomen, lives, and rest of the lower part of the body.

    Symptoms of heart failure-

    The symptoms of heart failure may vary from person to person and type of heart failure. The intensity of heart failure increases from low to high. The symptoms are mild at first, but they increase later. Some people might not even have any symptoms in the beginning.
    But the most common symptoms are-

    • Palpitations or irregular heartbeat occur either due to heart disease like heart enlargement. Or when your heart muscles are not able to pump enough oxygen-containing blood.
    • Weight gain
    • Swelling in the lower body, especially ankles, feet, legs, and abdomen.
    • Shortness of breath or congestion.
    • Fatigue
    • Urge to urinate while sleeping.
    • Fainting and dizziness time and again.
    • Confusion and difficulty to focus on things.
    • Dry throat and cough. Cough occurs, especially when you are lying flat.
    • Loss of appetite.
    • Bloated stomach.

    What is the cause behind heart failures?

    There is no one particular reason behind heart failure. Different people have different reasons for the failure of the heart.

    • Hypertension: If you have high blood pressure, it means you have more than normal pressure in your arteries. It will lead your heart towards pumping the blood harder and faster. In addition, it damages the left ventricle and the heart muscles to stiffen.
    • Congenital heart disease or heart disease since birth.
    • Cardiomyopathy or the damage of the cardiac muscles due to coronary arteries.
    • Prolonged Diabetes can also lead to heart failure.
    • Kidney or liver damages.
    • Heart attack.
    • Obesity and overweight.
    • Chemotherapy.
    • Wrong medication or use of drugs.

    Treatment of heart failure

    Heart failure is not a small disease treated with just a couple of medications. Instead, it requires intensive care and treatment throughout the patient’s lifetime.
    The treatment of heart failure varies and depends upon the type of heart failure. Then it is treated based on its root cause.
    If the root cause of the heart problem is very severe, it might require surgery.
    There are many of these-

    • Coronary bypass surgery unblocks the arteries. This surgery requires adding a stunt or taking a blood vessel from the leg or arm of the patient and connecting it below the blocked artery.
    • An ICD or implantable cardioverter defibrillators are inserted inside the chest and are linked to the heart. They keep a check on the rhythm of the heart.
    • Open heart surgery- Valve repair or replacement.
    • Ventricular assistive devices help the heart pump blood from the heart’s lower chambers.
    • Biventricular pacing or CRT.
    • If it appears that the problem is incurable, then the doctors might even go for the heart transplant.

Other than these, there are medications for curing heart failure-
Positive inotropes, Diuretics, Lanoxins, Beta-blockers, ACE’s, Vericiguat, etc., are used.

Apart from surgery and medication, your doctor might suggest CRT, which is cardiac resynchronization therapy. A pacemaker is applied during this, which assists in better synchronization of the heart.

A healthy lifestyle can surely prevent heart failure. So try to maintain a balanced life and let your heart be happy!

Content Reviewed by – Asian Hospital Medical Editors