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Congestive Heart Failure: Causes and Treatment

Congestive heart failure is a chronic condition that can have life-threatening consequences if left unaddressed. However, with the right medical intervention and lifestyle modifications, it is possible to reverse the disorder when caught early.    

CardioVascular Health Clinic provides complete heart care and services for heart failure. If you believe you or a loved one might need care, please schedule an appointment today.

Here’s a little information about the causes and treatment for heart failure at CardioVascular Health Clinic. 

What Causes Congestive Heart Failure?

Your heart works continuously to distribute oxygen-rich blood through your body. Congestive heart failure occurs when various factors strain the heart, causing it to lose strength or become rigid. As a result, the heart fails to function optimally, leading to insufficient blood flow. When the heart cannot pump enough blood to sustain the body, the condition is called heart failure. 

Factors that increase the risk of heart failure can include the following:

  • Amyloidosis: A condition that causes protein buildup within the organs, including the heart muscle (cardiac amyloidosis).
  • Arrhythmias: An erratic heartbeat triggered by disordered electrical heart signals.
  • Cancer treatments: Certain cancer treatments can damage heart cells, leaving the heart weaker and less efficient.
  • Cardiomyopathy: A disorder that causes the heart muscle to become stiff, enlarged, or thick.
  • Congenital heart disease: Prenatal heart disorders.
  • Coronary artery disease (CAD): When blood flow in the heart's blood vessels is restricted due to blockage or narrow blood vessels. 
  • Heart valve disease: A disorder that causes malfunction of one or more of the heart's four valves. 
  • Pericarditis: Inflammation, swelling, and irritation of the sac surrounding the heart.

In general, there are two categories of heart failure, both affecting the ventricles, or lower heart chambers:

Left-Sided Heart Failure 

There are two types of left-sided heart failure: systolic or diastolic. Systolic heart failure occurs when the left ventricle cannot contract sufficiently. Diastolic heart failure is when the left ventricle does not dilate and fill. In both cases, left-sided heart failure leads to pulmonary embolism (blood filling in the lungs).

Right-Sided Heart Failure 

A dysfunctional right ventricle that causes fluid to back up in the legs, feet, or abdomen

What are the Symptoms of Congestive Heart Failure?

There is a wide range of symptoms related to heart failure. Initially, you may develop flu-like symptoms, such as:

  • Body aches
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Appetite loss

As the condition advances, the symptoms might become more severe. These include:

  • Abdominal pain and bloating after eating
  • Difficulty breathing/shortness of breath
  • Disordered sleep
  • Unexplained weight gain
  • Fluid accumulation in the legs and feet

What Are the Stages of Congestive Heart Failure?

There are four stages of congestive heart failure. Recognizing congestive heart failure at its earliest stages is critically important to reverse or successfully manage the condition. When a patient advances through the different stages, the chances of survival decrease.

Stage A

Stage A of congestive heart failure occurs before the onset of actual heart failure; it is the collection of symptoms and indicators that strongly suggest vulnerability to heart failure. Patients at stage A often have chronic conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure, or coronary artery disease (CAD)

Stage A of congestive heart failure does not have symptoms, but the symptoms of contributing chronic conditions might be present. These symptoms include:

  • Swelling of the legs, feet, and hands
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue

Managing the contributing medical factors is critical; because there is not yet structural heart damage, the patient has the best chance of avoiding heart failure completely if the risk factors are addressed successfully.

Stage B

At stage B, there are structural signs of heart disease. These can include reduced pumping efficiency or left ventricular dysfunction. While there might be symptoms of the medical conditions that increase heart failure risk, there will not be symptoms of heart failure.

Stage C

Stage C heart failure will likely become symptomatic. The symptoms include:

  • Difficulty exercising
  • Persistent fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Weakness in the legs
  • Swollen abdomen, legs, ankles, and feet
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Persistent dry cough

Medications might be administered for stage C heart failure. These often include diuretics and beta blockers to lower blood pressure and manage heart rhythm. Surgical interventions, such as implantable cardioverter-defibrillators (ICDs) that monitor heart rates and deliver electric shocks to resume a normal heartbeat, might also be recommended.    

Stage D

Stage D is considered the final stage of heart failure. By the fourth stage, symptoms do not improve with treatments, though a heart transplant might still be an option for some patients.

What Are Treatments for Heart Failure?

Patients whose heart failure has not advanced beyond stage C might respond well to the following treatments:

  • Implantable pacemaker (a device that maintains a regular heart rhythm)
  • Ventricular assist device (an implantable tool that facilitates blood flow from the lower chambers of the heart)
  • Coronary artery bypass graft surgery (a procedure that clears the blockage from all affected arteries)
  • Heart valve repair surgery

If you have concerns about your heart health or think you might be at risk for heart failure or coronary artery disease, please contact our representatives to schedule a thorough evaluation today. 

Patient Resources

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Testimonials

Professional staff working in a beautiful facility with great doctors who sincerely care about their patients. Without Dr. Schmidt's skill, I would have needed heart bypass surgery instead of a stent. Follow-up has been thorough. I can't recommend them highly enough.
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LeAnn Harner

Dr. Jim Melton and all the staff are fantastic. He is an excellent surgeon and his team is GREAT!!!! I just had surgery at the surgery center, I have only great things to say about my experience. Without him I really don't think I would be here to write this. If you’re looking for a good cardiovascular team, they are a 5 star for sure.

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Susie Brooks Harrison

Dr. Parsons and staff are amazing. He truly listened to me from the consult. Staff showed genuine care for my progress post procedure. I had my follow up appointment today so satisfied with results. Blake made me comfortable from the start. He is an activist for uterine fibroids treatment beyond the standard.

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Tamara Means

Professional and caring staff. Dr. Smith is very knowledgeable and shows genuine concern for your personal health. I enjoyed the background music in the procedure room, it really adds to the relaxing atmosphere.

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David Lambert

Dr. John Schrader is the most personable doctor we know. He stays on top of my dads health care and is genuinely concerned about his health. We never leave his office with questions. He answers them all. Even questions we don’t think of. Always professional but never cold or bad bedside manner. In our opinion he is THE BEST around.
Thank you Dr Schrader.

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Kathy J

I came to Dr. Warren by a self referral for mals when it took me 8yrs 50+ doctors and thousands of dollars spent on no answers. My first visit I was scared I was just going to be gaslighted just like the past however I was pleasantly shocked when Dr. Warren immediately believed me. She took the time to review many disk I had brought from past tests. She never once dismissed me and listened to ever word I had to say. She scheduled one last test to confirm the diagnosis then I was scheduled for surgery right away. Surgery was a success and I can’t thank her and her staff enough. Dr. Warren truly saved my life.

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Angie W

Dr. Garner literally saved my life 18 months ago and I've followed him to his new practice with Cardiovascular Health. He explains things so clearly, listens and is just a very nice person. His staff is great, too! I highly recommend!

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D Watts

Some of the nicest staff that I have ever dealt with!! They have been so incredibly awesome to my mom!! Would definitely recommend them to anyone!! Thank you so much for being so great with her!!

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