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Aug 7

What is “Heart Failure”?

Congestive heart failure isn’t really a complete diagnosis, but actually a condition in which the heart muscle is failing to function or pump normally. Common symptoms include shortness of breath, fatigue, difficulty lying flat, sudden weight gain, and swollen extremities and abdominal bloating from fluid retention. Fluid can accumulate in the legs due to weakness in the heart muscle as a result of the diminished contractility or pumping action.

There are multiple causes of congestive heart failure (CHF). The most common cause is poorly controlled hypertension (high blood pressure). Other causes include heart failure related to malfunctioning of one or more of the heart valves, a heart muscle weakened by a massive heart attack, or a heart muscle weakened by viral infection. Up to 10 % of cases of CHF are genetic in origin. Then there remain a large number of cases in which we simply don’t really know the cause. We refer to these as idiopathic.

CHF is the most common cause of hospitalization in those over the age of 70 is CHF. As the heart ages, it often becomes stiffer and has difficulty relaxing. Indeed the heart muscle may pump strongly, but if it can’t relax well due to increased stiffness, filling of the heart with blood will be impaired, and fluid will subsequently back up.
Treatments include diuretics to help rid the body of excessive fluid, ACE inhibitors to help expand blood vessels and unload the failing heart, and beta blockers to decrease the stress on the heart muscle.

Smart Health Screening

Ultrasound Laboratories, Inc. dba SmartHealth Screening & SonoTech Imaging. We provide abdominal, cardiac and vascular ultrasound imaging services to physicians offices and patients homes. We accept most insurances including Medicare and Medi-Cal. 1-877-650-0650. Offices with Saturday appointments in Sunnyvale and Mountain View, CA