What You Should Know About Congestive Heart Failure

Authors: Melissa LaBarge, RN, BSN and Chloe Stuhlsatz, RN, BSN

As you may know, February is Heart Month. Let’s take some time to learn a little about how it works; or rather, how it doesn’t. Heart failure is a condition that affects millions of people. What is heart failure, you may ask? What are the symptoms? What causes it? How is it treated or managed?

There are two main types of heart failure: systolic and diastolic heart failure. According to Doctor Kanu Chatterjee in his article “Pathophysiology of Systolic and Diastolic Heart Failure,” the clinical definition of systolic heart failure is a syndrome which results from reduced left ventricular ejection fraction.

Ejection fraction is the percentage of blood that is being pumped out of the heart with each beat. With this type of heart failure, the heart isn’t contracting effectively and therefore not getting oxygenated blood to the body.

The definition of diastolic heart failure is a condition resulting from an increased resistance to filling of one or both ventricles. In this type of heart failure the ventricles are not relaxing or allowing blood to the heart.

As with many diseases, early detection is key to better outcomes. 

Symptoms of Heart Failure. When should you be concerned?

If you notice it getting increasingly difficult to do normal daily activities, if you are frequently short of breath and fatigued, if you are experiencing an onset of weight gain and swelling due to extra fluid in your heart, you should check in with your doctor.

When the heart isn’t circulating the blood properly, it could be a sign that there is fluid buildup or edema somewhere in the body. Often- times this build up will be in the lungs, chest cavity, or in the extremities.

Causes of Heart Failure

There are many causes that precipitate heart failure. Some predispo- sitions such as age, gender, and ethnic background will put an individual at great risk. However, lifestyle, chemical exposure, and medical history also play large roles. A few of the most notable causes are coronary artery disease. Other causes include previous heart conditions, hypertension, diabetes, kidney disease, obesity, and smoking.

Curing Heart Failure

A cure for heart failure has yet to be discovered. However, symptoms can be managed in various ways through lifestyle modifications, medical prescriptions or, in severe cases, medical devices or proce- dures may be recommended.

Lifestyle changes to combat congestive heart failure include quitting smoking, healthy diet, and increased physical activity.

Supplements can also play a beneficial part in protecting the heart and even help it repair itself. Doctor Stephen Sinatra uses coenzyme Q10, L-Carnitine, and D-Ribose, as he writes greatly about in his book The Sinatra Solution: Metabolic Cardiology. He found many patients with heart failure, as well as other heart conditions, to be deficient in coenzyme Q10. (p. 76) Dr. Sinatra uses these nutrients to give the heart the energy it needs to function.

Heart failure is a chronic condition that occurs when the heart is not working properly. Notify your doctor at onset of symptoms for early detection and treatment. The sooner you make the necessary changes—quitting smoking, healthy diet, and supplements— the better your chances are to combat heart failure.

  1. Heart Failure: Also known as Congestive heart failure https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/heart-failure
  2. Stephen T. Sinatra, M.D., F.A.C.C, 2005, The Sinatra Solution: Metabolic Cardiology
  3. Pathophysiology of Systolic and Diastolic Heart Failure Kanu Chatterjee, MB, FRCP(Lond), FRCP (Edin), FCCP, MACP. medi- cal.theclinics.com https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/arti- cle/abs/pii/S002571251200123X?via%3Dihub Division of Cardiolo- gy, Department of Medicine, University of Iowa, Room/Bldg-E-314-4 GH, 200 Hawkins Drive, Iowa city, IA 52242-1081, USA, Available online 13 September 2012.
  4. Heart Failure: Also known as Congestive heart failure https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7540043/ ‘https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7540043/ https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/heart-failure