Congestive heart failure is one of many forms of heart failure that involves the accumulation of fluid in the body, resulting in persistent symptoms. Heart failure is a serious disease, the result of many diseases, not only those of the cardiovascular system. Its essence is the insufficient force with which the heart works, and thus insufficient blood supply to the whole organism.
Congestive heart failure – symptoms
If blood accumulates from the right side of the heart (right ventricular failure), usually the patient has swelling of the lower extremities, which increases when the patient is standing and disappears when the patient is lying down. If blood accumulates from the left side of the heart (left ventricular failure), i.e. in the lungs, there may be a shortness of breath and a cough, especially during exercise, e.g. climbing stairs and / or lying on your back. Many people with congestive heart failure have right ventricular and left ventricular failure symptoms.
In addition to swelling and shortness of breath, additional symptoms may occur: palpitations, tachycardia, weakness and fatigue, lack of physical endurance, coughing, wheezing, sudden weight gain and loss of appetite or nausea.
Congestive heart failure – causes
There are many reasons for the development of heart failure, most often they are:
- ischemic heart disease
- atrial fibrillation
- congenital heart disease
- It also happens that they lead to it:
- thyroid disease
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
They all cause reduced myocardial performance by directly damaging it or forcing it to work excessively – too fast or too intense. Symptoms of heart failure often come from other systems and are apparently unrelated to it. But only seemingly.
Congestive heart failure – research
In the diagnosis of this condition, physical examination, echocardiography, chest x-ray and one of several types of radioisotope and computer imaging are performed. Laboratory tests are not a key element of diagnosis and may include:
- General urine test for possible kidney damage
- biochemical tests to assess electrolyte balance or to detect renal failure because the symptoms associated with kidney problems are similar to those of congestive heart failure.
- activity of B-type natriuretic peptide (BNP), a hormone produced in the left ventricle (the main part of the heart responsible for pumping blood), its presence in the blood helps to recognize and assess the severity of heart failure.
- panel of metabolic tests to check electrolyte balance or to recognize kidney failure (since the symptoms of kidney disease resemble those of congestive heart failure)
- morphology to determine possible anemia as it may cause similar symptoms as well as contribute to congestive heart failure
- cerebral natriuretic peptide (BNP) or n-terminal pro-BNP – studies measuring the production of the hormone present in the left ventricle (main heart pump) to diagnose and assess the severity of heart failure.