Congestive Heart Failure is a chronic condition which means one will require life-long medical management to keep a check on the functioning of the heart

The heart is composed of four chambers, the upper two are called the atria and the lower two are the ventricles. The right atrium and ventricle receive deoxygenated blood return through veins. They pump to lungs, and after oxygenation reach left atrium, ventricle and is pumped throughout the body. Congestive heart failure occurs when the heart cannot pump enough blood volume to the body. Certain conditions, such as narrowed arteries in the heart or high blood pressure, over time, can cause the heart to become too weak or stiff to fill and pump efficiently. This leads to heart failure or congestive heart failure


Early Symptoms of Congestive Heart Failure:


  • Shortness of breath on exertion.
  • Fatigue
  • Swelling in your feet and ankles
  • Weight pain
  • Increased need to urinate at night

As the condition progresses, so will the symptoms:


  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Persistent cough or wheezing
  • Shortness of breath at rest that may be indicative of pulmonary edema
  • Sudden, severe shortness of breath
  • Swelling of your abdomen

Symptoms that indicate a severe heart condition:


  • Bluish skin caused by inadequate oxygen in the lungs
  • Feeling lightheaded and fainting
  • Shortness of breath and coughing up pinkish mucus These symptoms are not to be taken lightly and seek for an immediate consultation with emergency department.

Causes for Congestive Heart Failure


  • Coronary artery disease and heart attack: The build-up of fatty deposits (plaque) in the arteries reduces blood flow and can lead to heart attack leading to congestive heart failure.
  • High blood pressure (hypertension) requires the heart to work harder, and this extra exertion can weaken the heart muscles.
  • Faulty heart valves make the heart work harder, which can weaken it over time.
  • Cardiomyopathy or damage to the heart muscle can be caused by certain diseases, infections, alcohol abuse, cocaine addiction and even some chemotherapy drugs.
  • Myocarditis is an inflammation of the heart muscle caused by a virus, such as COVID-1
  • It can lead to left-sided heart failure.
  • Congenital heart defects may lead to heart failure.
  • Abnormal heart rhythms also called Heart Arrhythmias may cause the heart to beat too fast or too slow leading to heart issues.
  • Chronic diseases such as diabetes, HIV, thyroid issues, build-up of iron(hemochromatosis) or build-up of protein (amyloidosis) can lead to heart failure.
  • Viral infections in the heart muscle, severe infections, allergic reactions, blood clots in the lungs and certain medications can cause acute heart failure

Symptoms that indicate a severe heart condition:


Congestive Heart Failure is a chronic condition which means one will require life-long medical management to keep a check on the functioning of the heart. Diagnosis starts with a complete medical history of the patient, to help the doctor understand any underlying causes that could have led to the condition. This could be other medical conditions such as hypertension or it could be from bad lifestyle choices such as smoking tobacco or excessive consumption of alcohol. This is usually followed up by a Chest X-Ray, ECG, Echocardiogram and Stress test to assess the functioning of the heart and the extent of the damage. Once the doctor gets a complete picture of the heart and what could be causing the condition, medicines are prescribed accordingly. Most often the drugs prescribed are to improve heart pumping, or lower blood pressure or reduce fluid retention in the body. Often these heart-failure drugs are given in combination with statins to lower cholesterol and blood thinners to prevent clotting. Some patients may require surgery to remove a block or set-right a faulty valve, others may have to be implanted with a device that helps the heart pump better and evenly.


For any condition prevention is better than cure. If you can quit unhealthy habits such as smoking tobacco and drinking alcohol, eat a healthy low sodium diet, avoid sugary food and exercise regularly, you will be taking good care of your heart.


Dr.Ashokkumar Consultant - Cardiology at Dr.Kamakshi Memorial Hospital
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