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The heart is one of the body’s most vital organ. The heart pumps blood throughout the body which carries nutrients other organs need. It also carries oxygenated blood to the lungs which allows us to breathe. Since the heart is so important, relying on it that it will do its job is necessary so we can live, but sometimes the heart can fail. Heart failure is a syndrome that occurs when the heart can not pump enough blood to meet the body’s metabolic needs. This paper will discuss what heart failure is, the signs and symptoms, and lastly the treatment and prevention of heart failure.
Heart failure is usually classified according to the side of the heart that is affected. Either “ left or right side, or by the cardiac cycle involved” (Lippincott Wilkins & Williams, 2011). Left sided heart failure occurs when there is ineffective function of the left ventricular contractile. As the pumping of the left ventricle fails, cardiac output also fails. The blood that is suppose to go to the body is no longer being pumped out, thus backing up into the left atrium and the the lungs, causing “pulmonary congestion, dyspnea, and activity intolerance” ( Lippincott Wilkins & Williams, 2011). Right sided heart failure results from ineffective right ventricular contractile function. Blood is not being pumped effectively through the right ventricle to the lungs, causing blood to back up into the right atrium and the peripheral circulation.
When this happens, the patient gains weight and develops peripheral edema and engorgement of the kidney and other organs. Heart failure not only effects the heart but also other systems in the body. The cardiovascular system is affected by the heart not being able to pump blood throughout the body. Also, as the blood backs up into the left atrium, blood backs up into the lungs causing pulmonary congestion which affects the respiratory system. When blood backs up into the right atrium, the kidneys become engorged which cause problems with the renal system.
There are different signs and symptoms for heart failure. People with heart failure can develop shortness of breath, also called dyspnea, caused when the blood is backed up in the pulmonary veins. The patient will feel breathlessness during activity or while sleeping. Another sign and symptom is persistent coughing or wheezing, caused when fluid is being backed up in the lungs. The patient will cough up pink or blood stained mucus. Another sign and symptom is build up of excess fluid in body tissues, also called edema, and is caused when blood flow out of the heart slows down, the blood returning to the heart through the veins backs up, causing fluid to build up in the tissues. Patient can also develop swelling in the feet, ankles, legs or abdomen, or weight gain. A patient with heart failure may also feel tired and develop fatigue caused by the heart not pumping enough to meet the body’s needs. They also might develop digestive problems causing loss of appetite and nausea. This is a result of the digestive system not receiving enough blood causing digestive problems. ( Chen, 2013)
If a patient has been diagnosed with heart failure there are some treatments that are involved to keep the syndrome under control. The patient will have medical therapy that involves medications such as an angiotensin- covering enzyme, diuretics to reduce fluid volume overload and venous return, beta- adrenergic blockers to prevent remodeling, any many others. A patient may also have to undergo surgery such as cardiac bypass. There are many life style changes that the patient also has to comply with. Some include weight loss, limited alcohol intake, smoking cessation, stress reduction, and development of an exercise program. If the case is severe, the patient might have to have a heart transplant, but even so, many complications and a hospitalizations are experienced. In order to porevent heart failure there are two ways to approach it. First is to stop or slow heart failure, and second is to avoid a repeat of any event detrimental to the patient’s life. (Shaddinger, 2014)
Heart failure is a very serious disease. It should never be be taken lightly and although the most common cause of heart failure is coronary artery disease. It can also occur in infants and children with heart defects.
Chen, M. (2013) Hear Failure Overview. The New York Times. Retrieved from www.nytimes.com/health/guides/disease/heart-failure/overview.html Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, (2011) Pressure ulcers. Professional Guide to Pathophysiology. 3rd ed.
p. 575-579. Philadelphia. Wolters Kluwer.
Shaddinger, D. (2014) Treatment and Prevention. Seconds Count. Retrieved from www.scai.org/secondscount/treatment/default.aspx