Congestive Heart Failure (cont.)
Daniel Lee Kulick, MD, FACC, FSCAI
Dr. Kulick received his undergraduate and medical degrees from the University of Southern California, School of Medicine. He performed his residency in internal medicine at the Harbor-University of California Los Angeles Medical Center and a fellowship in the section of cardiology at the Los Angeles County-University of Southern California Medical Center. He is board certified in Internal Medicine and Cardiology.
William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.
In this Article
- Congestive heart failure facts
- What is congestive heart failure?
- What causes congestive heart failure?
- What are the symptoms of congestive heart failure (CHF)?
- How is congestive heart failure diagnosed?
- What is the treatment of congestive heart failure?
- Lifestyle modifications
- Heart transplant
- Other mechanical therapies
- What is the long term outlook for patients with congestive heart failure?
- What are the areas of new research in congestive heart failure?
- Find a local Cardiologist in your town
What are the symptoms of congestive heart failure?
The symptoms of congestive heart failure vary among individuals according to the particular organ systems involved and depending on the degree to which the rest of the body has "compensated" for the heart muscle weakness.
- An early symptom of congestive
heart failure is fatigue.
While fatigue is a sensitive indicator of possible underlying congestive heart
failure, it is obviously a
nonspecific symptom that may be caused by many other conditions. The person's ability
to exercise may also diminish. Patients may not even sense this decrease and they may
subconsciously reduce their activities to accommodate this limitation.
- As the body becomes overloaded with fluid from congestive heart failure, swelling (edema) of the ankles and legs or abdomen may be noticed. This can be referred to as
"right sided heart failure" as failure of the right sided heart chambers to pump venous blood to the lungs to acquire oxygen results in buildup of this fluid in gravity-dependent areas such as in the legs. The most common cause of this is longstanding failure of the left heart, which may lead to secondary failure of the right heart. Right-sided heart failure can also be caused by severe lung disease (referred to as
"cor pulmonale"), or by intrinsic disease of the right heart muscle (less common)
- In addition, fluid may accumulate in the lungs, thereby causing
shortness of breath, particularly during exercise and when lying flat. In some
instances, patients are awakened at night, gasping for air.
- Some may be unable
to sleep unless sitting upright.
- The extra fluid in the body may cause
urination, particularly at night.
- Accumulation of fluid in the liver and intestines may cause nausea, abdominal pain, and decreased appetite.
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