Congestive heart failure
occurs when the main pumping chambers of the heart (called ventricles) no longer function well enough to pump blood efficiently round the body.
This can be due to a number of causes, muscle damage caused by a heart attack
, infection, faulty heart valve, prolonged uncontrolled high blood pressure
, birth defect
, irregular heart beat.
Because the heart cannot pump the blood properly round the body there can be congestion in the blood vessels causing fluid to leak out into the surrounding tissues. This can manifest itself as swollen ankles or fluid in the lungs. Symptoms also include shortness of breath
and feeling tired.
The body trys to compensate by increasing heart rate
and contracting blood vessels to increase blood pressure and improve oxygenation. While this is effective in the early stages of the disease it can lead to further damage later on because the heart has to work much harder to pump blood around the contrsticted vessels.
Fortunately in mild to moderate cases there are a number of drug treatments available which combined with the correct dietry and lifestyle changes can lead to a good quality of life and control the condition preventing further deterioation.
e.g (these are only examples, your doctor will prescribe the best treatment for your condition)
Furosemide is a commonly used diuretic which is used to remove excess fluid from the body, relieving fluid build up in the tissues and lowering the amount of work the heart has to do.
Digoxin can improve the efficiency with which the heart contracts and control irregular hear rhythms.
Lisonipril is a commonly used ACE inhibitor
which dilates blood vessels decreasing the resistance against which the heart has to pump.
If the disease is not too severe and the underlying cause is fixable, e.g. faulty valve then surgery may be an option. Once the valve is replaced then the load on the heart decreases and the conditon improves.
The main thing is that this condition can be controlled effectively with drugs and many people live for quite a long time after initial diagnosis.