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Congestive Heart Failure

What is congestive heart failure?

Congestive heart failure (CHF) is a cardiac condition that occurs when the heart muscle is unable to pump the sufficient blood it requires. In this condition, blood usually backs up and fluid can accumulate in the lungs which causes shortness of breath. People with CHF experience the issue of flushing out the sodium and water resulting in holding on to the excessive fluid causing swelling.

Congestive heart failure is not an indication that the heart has stopped functioning. It only means that it is functioning less than usual. It happens due to probable causes like blood flowing throughout the body and heart at decreased rate and pressure in the heart increasing. As a consequence, it becomes difficult for the heart to pump sufficient oxygen and nutrients when it comes to fulfilling the body's requirements.

Types of congestive heart failure

There are two types of congestive heart failure which includes:

  • Systolic dysfunction or systolic heart failure occurs when the heart muscle is unable to contract the sufficient force, so the blood is less oxygen-rich and pumped throughout the body.
  • Diastolic dysfunction occurs when the heart is able to contract usually, but the ventricles are not relaxing adequately or are rigid. It means that less blood is entering the heart during usual filling.

Congestive heart failure symptoms

Usually, people with CHF condition don’t experience any symptoms. The congestive heart failure symptoms are not very severe, however here are some of the symptoms:

  • Due to fluid backup in the lungs, you can experience shortness of breath. You might also feel difficulty breathing even when you are in the resting mode.
  • Fluid and water retention are among the noticeable signs of congestive heart failure. People with CHF condition experience swelling in their legs, ankles, abdomen, and weight gain. Also, frequent urination is experienced at night due to water retention.
  • Dizziness, fatigue, and weakness are the symptoms which should not be overlooked. When there is less blood in the organs and muscles, it causes excessive tiredness and weakness. If there is less blood flowing to the brain, you might always feel dizziness.
  • Fast and irregular heartbeats are also experienced by a CHF patient. When an individual has this condition, the heart beats faster so that sufficient blood is pumped to the body which leads to fast or irregular heartbeat.

Congestive heart failure causes

There are different causes of congestive heart failure conditions damaging the heart muscles. It includes:

  • Coronary artery disease or CAD causes artery restriction or narrowing down causing insufficient oxygen and nutrients.
  • Heart attack occurs when there is a sudden blockage in the coronary artery, preventing the blood flow to the heart muscle. A heart attack leads to massive damage to the heart muscle causing congestive heart failure.
  • Cardiomyopathy involves harming the heart muscles from causes other than coronary artery issues like infections, alcohol, or drug abuse.
  • There are other causes such as valve disease, kidney disease, diabetes, thyroid disease, high blood pressure, or heart defects present at birth that lead to congestive heart failure.

Congestive heart failure diagnosis

First, your doctor will ask about symptoms and clinical history during heart failure diagnosis. The doctor will try understanding any heart conditions if you have had any in the past like diabetes, high blood pressure, heart valve diseases, coronary heart disease, angina, etc. The complete physical evaluation will be done and the doctor will find the signs of heart diseases.

Based on his/her assessment, the doctor will order following tests to identify the severity and causes for precise congestive heart failure diagnosis:

  • Blood tests: It will help in checking the levels of cholesterol and anemia presence.
  • B-type natriuretic peptide blood test: It will assist in identifying the blood pressure changes and heart failure symptoms worsening.
  • Chest X-ray: The doctor will be able to assess if there is an accumulation of fluid around the lungs and heart with this test.
  • Ejection fraction: It is for assessing the efficiency of your heart pumping with every beat. It will diagnose the presence of systolic dysfunction.
  • Electrocardiogram EKG or ECG: It involves recording the impulses electrically moving through the heart.
  • Stress test: It will offer information about the coronary artery disease probability.
  • Cardiac catheterization: This process is useful in evaluating if the reason for congestive heart failure is coronary artery disease.

Congestive heart failure treatment

No cure is available up till now for congestive heart failure treatment. However, there are treatment options aiming to relieve the symptoms and slowing down the additional damage. Here are the options that assist in treating the condition to some extent.

Lifestyle changes

The treatment plan for congestive heart failure essentially involves lifestyle changes such as:

  • Quit smoking if you are a regular smoker
  • Refrain from drinking alcohol
  • Maintain healthy weight
  • Include at least 30 minutes’ exercise in your daily routine
  • Eat fruits and fresh green vegetables
  • Avoid salt and caffeine to prevent irregularities in heartbeat.
  • Increase your fluid intake as advised by the doctor


The doctor might recommend following congestive heart failure medications to ease out the symptoms;

  • Vasodilators for the expansion of blood vessels and smooth blood flow. It also benefits in reducing blood pressure.
  • ACE inhibitors help in improving the heart functionality and life expectancy.
  • Beta-blockers for improving the heart functionality.
  • Aldosterone inhibitors for treating fluid treating and enhancing your chances of living longer.
  • Diuretics for treating fluid retention
  • Digitalis glycosides help in strengthening the contractions in the heart.
  • Tranquilizers are given to reduce the issues of anxiety.
  • Anticoagulants like aspirin are recommended to manage or reduce the chances of blood clots.

Surgical procedures

Surgery is recommended in rare cases that involves bypassing blocked arteries or if there is a need for heart valve replacement. Ventricular assist devices are recommended for heart transplantation however; it is the last option after the doctor’s comprehensive assessment.

Why should you choose Rukmani Birla Hospital, Jaipur?

Rukmani Birla Hospital, Jaipur is a multi-special hospital offering the best patient care across the city. The hospital has been serving its patients for decades with the assistance of highly-qualified and expert doctors. We have integrated the best-in-class technology including the latest and advanced medical equipment ensuring the finest treatment for our patients.

We are a NABH-accredited hospital aiming to make our services accessible to each patient. We have 24*7 medical emergency services and always are just one call away.

If you have a congestive failure condition ensure getting in touch with us, we have a cardiology department incorporated with the team of the best cardiologists. You won’t be satisfied certainly.


What should you avoid if you have congestive heart failure?

If you have a condition of congestive heart failure, make sure to avoid habits like smoking, alcohol, consuming excessive salt, highly processed grains, and processed meats.

Can you live a normal life with congestive heart failure?

Yes, it is easy to live a life with congestive heart failure but it is important to understand and take control of the heart failure symptoms. Get in touch with your doctor as he/she can provide the right instructions and offer a treatment plan suitable for you.

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