5.1 million people across America have congestive heart failure and almost half of those people will die within 5 years of diagnosis. Heart failure is a weakness of the heart that leads to the buildup of fluid in the lungs and surrounding body tissues. This decline in cardiac productivity leads to the blood not being able to circulate from the body and lungs back to the heart, causing fluid to leak from capillary blood vessels. Heart failure is most commonly caused by a weakness of the muscle of the left ventricle, which leads to inadequate circulation. Congestive heart failure, if left untreated, disrupts the homeostasis in the human body, causing other problems.
Heart failure doesn’t mean your heart stops pumping, it means your heart isn’t meeting your body’s need for blood and oxygen. When left untreated, the blood begins to back up in your veins and fluid builds up, causing swelling in your feet, ankles and legs causing edema. Fluid builds up in the lungs causing pulmonary congestion. The backup of fluid causes the body to not get enough blood, food and/or oxygen.
Heart failure is cause by many things, but the most common is coronary artery disease (CAD). CAD occurs when fatty deposits called plaque buildup in the arteries that supply blood to the heart muscle. Other risk factors include past heart attacks, heart defects from birth, high blood pressure, heart valve disease, diseases of the heart muscle, heart infection, arrhythmias, being overweight, diabetes, thyroid problems, and drug and alcohol abuse.
Treatment for heart failure ranges from lifestyle changes to surgery. Maintaining a proper diet for patients of heart failure is very important as not doing so can worsen the problem. Many patients with heart failure are recommended to eat a diet containing a variety of vegetables and fruits that is low is salt, solid fats, added sugars and refined grains. It is also important that patients drink the correct amount and type of fluids. Overweight or obese patients may also lose weight and be physically active as advised by a doctor. They should also quit smoking, and avoid second hand smoke, and use of illegal drugs. A doctor may prescribe medicines based the type of heart failure and how severe. These medications may include diuretics, which help reduce the fluid buildup in the lungs and feet, ACE inhibitors to lower blood pressure and reduce stain on the heart, and/or aldosterone antagonists which trigger the body’s response to get rid of salt and water through urine. If lifestyle and medicine changes no longer control symptoms, a medical procedure or surgery may be necessary. CRT devices (type of pacemaker) may be implanted near the heart to help both sides of the heart contract at the same time and decease heart failure symptoms.
http://umm.edu/health/medical/reports/articles/heart-failure http://www.cdc.gov/dhdsp/data_statistics/fact_sheets/fs_heart_failure.htm http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/hf/treatment.html