We all are fond of good food, but that doesn’t mean we should not keep the track of the extra fats and cholesterol we consume with our favorite foods. Being conscious about the health of your heart is essential to keep the heart from getting diseased. Most of the cardiovascular diseases develop due to obesity or being overweight, whereas some may develop when the cholesterol gets accumulated into the blood vessels and make them narrow, thus reducing the blood supply to the heart. It is an old saying that “precaution is always better than cure”. This statement means that taking care of your heart and keeping it healthy is better than treating it after having a heart problem. Along with regular exercise, adopting certain changes in your eating habits can make you stay healthy for long. Here are a few recipes of delicious appetizers for healthy heart.
1: Potato Pearls
These appetizers are delicious and can be made in advanced, refrigerated and baked later.
- Potatoes – 1 pound
- Wheat germ – ½ cup
- Finely chopped green onions or chives – ½ cup
- Paprika – ½ tablespoon
- Pepper and salt for taste
Preheat the oven at 375 degree. Pour water in a bowl with potatoes and boil it until soft. Peal and mash them. Add salt, pepper and onions and shape into balls of almost 1 inch in size. Mix wheat germ and paprika together in a plate and roll potato balls for coating with this mixture. Use paper towel to apply a coat of the nonstick spray on the baking sheet. Keep this in the oven and allow it to bake for nearly 20 minutes. Serve hot in a dish with a toothpicks.
Above mentioned quantity can make 10 servings and each ball contains 10.02 g carbohydrates, 0.64g fat, 2.46 proteins.
Formerly, most of the foods were fried, but now they can be broiled or baked which can help to reduce the fat and cholesterol content. Coat the vegetables with savory and cook until golden brown. To make a simple shakebake coating, blend half cup of finely crumbled corn flakes with one teaspoon seasoned salt; sage, paprika and onion powder (1/2 teaspoon each); thyme, garlic powder and pepper (¼ teaspoon each). The foods that need to be coated can be dipped or moistened in a mixture of eight tablespoon water and four tablespoon Ener-G egg replacer, whisked to a foam. Place it in the oven and allow it to bake until crispy and brown (for around 15 minutes) at 375 degree. Serve hot and eat immediately.
2: Asparagus Guacamole
Fat free dish with flavor of avocados.
- Tomato paste – 2 teaspoon
- Cooked asparagus – 1 cup
- Lemon juice – 1 teaspoon
- Garlic powder – ¼ teaspoon
- White powder – 1/8 teaspoon
- Chopped onion – 1 tablespoon
- Fat free mayonnaise – 3 tablespoon
- Diced chili peppers – (2 tablespoon or according to taste)
- Cumin – ½ teaspoon
You can also use black pepper (fine ground)
Pour all the ingredients in a food processor or blender and allow it to mix well. For making corn chips, cut the corn tortillas into pieces or strips and bake at 325 degree (around 20 minutes). You can also buy the baked fat free tortilla chips from the store. Serve asparagus guacamole with these chips.
This recipe makes six servings and each has 0.21g fat, 16.2 calories, 1.4 g protein and 3.0g carbohydrate.
For preparing rich and thick salsa, pour five tablespoons of dried and chopped onions in a jar, put one tablespoon each of ground cumin, garlic powder, cilantro, chopped green onion and oregano. Add hot sauce for desired taste. Pour tomato shake, juice into the jar and keep it in the refrigerator overnight. You can also add finely diced celery, cucumber, and sweet bell peppers for flavor. Use less salt tomato juice for fresher and sweeter taste. It can be kept for three weeks if refrigerated.
3: Oven-Fried Yucca
For reducing the fat, prefer cooking oil spray.
- Cassava (fresh yucca), peeled and sliced into 3 inch pieces – 1 pound
- Cooking oil spray
Put the yucca in a kettle and pour cold water in it covering the yucca by one inch. Heat the water till it boils and cook the yucca at simmer until it is tender (for around 20 to 30 minutes).
Heat oven till 350 degree.
Take a slotted spoon and transfer the yucca on a cutting board. Allow it to cool and cut into ¾ inch wide.
Spray non stick cooking oil on a cookie sheet. Place wedges of yucca on the cookie sheet and sprinkle cooking oil spray over it. Use foil paper to cover this and allow it to bake for 8 minutes. Remove the cover and return to the oven for additional baking (baking for nearly 7 minutes).
This recipe yields 6 servings.
4:Pupusas Revueltas with Chicken
Low fat cheese and ground chicken help to reduce calories and fat.
- Vegetable oil – 1 tablespoon
- Ground chicken breast – 1 pound
- Minced garlic – 1 clove
- Grated mozzarella cheese (low fat content) – ½ pound
- Green pepper, minced and seeded – 1 medium sized
- Finely diced small onion – ½
- Finely chopped tomato – 1 small
- Masa harina (instant corn flour) – 5 cups
- Water – 6 cups
- Salt – ½ teaspoon
Heat a nonstick skillet over low flame and saute chicken in oil for few minutes or until it turns white. Stir the chicken constantly to avoid it from sticking.
Add green pepper, garlic, tomato and onion. Let this mixture to blend and cook well with chicken. Remove the frying pan from the stove and allow the mixture to cool. When it comes to room temperature, keep it in the refrigerator.
Take the instant corn flour into a mixing bowl, add the required amount of water to it and stir it well to make a stiff dough (like tortilla).
Mix in cheese to the refrigerated chicken mixture.
Make 24 pieces out of the dough. Roll each piece into ball with your hands and flatten them into a circle of around half inch in thickness.
Heat the iron skillet and cook each of the pupusas from both sides until golden brown.
Serve with Curtido salvadoreño.
This recipe yields 12 servings with 2 pupusas in each serving.
5:Curtido Cabbage Salvadore
This is an heart healthy recipe which can be cooked in very little amount of salt and oil.
- Grated carrots (small – 2
- Oregano – ½ teaspoon
- chopped cabbage – 1 medium head
- Olive oil – 1 teaspoon
- Sliced onion (small) – 1
- Dried red pepper – ½ teaspoon
- Brown sugar – 1 teaspoon
- Water – ½ cup
- Vinegar – ¼ cup
- Salt – 1 teaspoon
Pour water and cabbage into a pan and allow the cabbage to blench for 1 minute in boiling water. Take the cabbage off the water.
Transfer the cabbage in a big bowl and add sliced onions, grated carrots, olive oil, salt, oregano, red pepper, vinegar, water and brown sugar.
Before serving, place this mixture in refrigerator for nearly two hours.
Serve this curtido cabbage salvadore with pupusas revueltas.
This recipe yields 8 servings.
These delicious appetizers for healthy heart are made in cooking oil spray and hence are less in fat content. They can be made easily and quickly.
Healthy heart is a key to healthy life. Many people are fond of junk food and fast food, but these food items contain large amount of fats and cholesterol, which tend to develop cardiovascular diseases. Here we have shared some healthy heart appetizer recipes that are simple, quick and easy to cook. Now, without compromising with the taste, you can stay healthy. These are vegan recipes which are less in calories and are helpful in reversing and preventing heart disease.
1: Roasted Garbanzo Beans
This is a portable and quick snack which you can nibble with crispy chick peas.
- Garbanzo beans without salt – 1 can
- Seasonings for adding taste
Rinse the garbanzo beans and drain it. Pour in a zipper bag, add spice of your choice and blend it well. Pour this mixture on a non-stick sheet and spread flavorings of your choice. Now, allow it to bake for 25 minutes at 400 degree.
For flavorings, you can try hickory-smoked tortula yeast, spike, onion powder, sugar and cinnamon, garlic powder or curry powder (all are sodium free). Other flavors may increase the amount of sodium, in case salt is not your concern; artificial butter-flavor salt can be used.
With the given quantity, you can fill around 24 pieces:
- Veggie sausage or TVP – 4 tablespoon
- Finely chopped mushroom – 2 tablespoon
- Finely chopped spring onion – 2 T
- Finely chopped garlic for taste – 2 T
- Finely chopped ginger root – 1 T
- Finely chopped cabbage – 2T
- Finely chopped carrots and green, yellow and red peppers (optional) – 2T
Rice vinegar – 2 T
Soy sauce – 1 T
2-3 drops of chili paste
Small round sheet of pasta for gyoza or won-ton – wonton pi
Combine all the filling ingredients in a large bowl and add a little salt to it. Take a pasta sheet, pour a teaspoonful mixture over it, now fold it in half and crimp the edges. Apply little water on the corners of the pasta sheet before pouring the filling. This will help to stick it properly.
Cooking Method I: Pour few drops of oil on a non-stick frying pan and wipe it with paper napkin. Fry gyoza at moderate heat until it gets slight brown. Pour in one tablespoon hot water for every gyoza, cover a tight lid and steam for around minutes. Drain the water before serving.
Cooking Method II: Steam the gyoza and then allow to heat in a nonstick pan till they get brown.
Serve in separate small plates with dipping sauce.
3: Vietnamese Temple Rolls
These temple rolls are delicate spring rolls.
- Wood mushrooms or dried shiitake – 8
- Rice paper rounds – 16
- Medium julienned, carrot – 2
- Bean thread noodles – 2 packages
- Mung bean sprouts – 1 cup
- Peeled and diced cucumber – 1
- Chopped steamed broccoli, snow peas (or other vegetables) – 1 cup
Scallions sliced into thin silvers – 3
Sprig Thai basil – around 12 leaves
Mint leaves – 1 bunch of about 12 leaves
Rehydrate mushrooms for almost 20 minutes in warm water, then julienne cut. Soak bean threads in normal water for around 20 minutes. Now, heat them in nearly 2 quarts of boiling water for about 1 minute, until they are slightly soft. Take off this water and save it. Take cold water in a colander, rinse and drain the bean threads in it. Blanch snow peas, carrot, or other vegetables in saved boiling water for one minute. Allow the bean sprouts to blanch for 30 seconds and rinse all in normal water.
Pour water in a large bowl or dish and immerse all the sheets of rice paper one by one for almost a minute and then pour them to a slightly wet paper towel or dish towel. For making rolls, arrange noodles, carrots, snow peas, mushrooms and scallions or other vegetables, one basil leaf, 2 mint leaves in a line on top. Roll up these contents in a rice paper compactly by folding flaps. Serve diagonally or whole cut rolls in bowls with dipping sauce.
Crispy or soft, plain or salted, small or large snack, according to your choice.
Very warm water – 1 and a half cup
Sugar – 1 tablespoon
Salt – 1 teaspoon
Flour – 4 cups
Yeast – 1 packet or 2 1/4
Mix yeast in warm water and stir until it turns muddy. Add flour, sugar and salt. Blend well and knead the dough. Now roll in a sheet and slice in pieces to shape into traditional pretzel rolls to bows to make sticks. Place these pretzels on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake for around 12 to 15 minutes (until they turn slight brown) at 425 degree. To make it special, sprinkle some chopped onions, any favorite spices or herbs, garlic powder and coarse salt if sodium is not a concern (before baking).
When baking you can use oat flour, whole wheat rye and specialty grains as an alternative to white flour for fiber rich and tasty treats. Usually, white flour has less minerals, fiber and vitamins.
This is a Mediterranean spread for hors d’oevres, sandwiches and dips.
- Mashed garlic cloves – 2
- Ground cumin – ½ teaspoon
- Juice of 1 lemon
- Mayonnaise (fat free) – ¼
- Cooked chickpeas (garbanzo beans) – 2 cans or 4 cups
- Dijon mustard – 2 teaspoon
The below listed ingredients are optional. This recipe can be prepared with different Mediterranean ways. You can add any of these or all according to your taste preference:
- Sweet pickle relish – 2 tablespoon
- Cilantro or parsley – 1/8
- Hot sauce or cayenne pepper
- Green onions – 2
- One pinch of salt (avoid if sodium is your concern)
Drain the canned beans and reserve the liquid or water. Mix in a food processor or blender and add the reserved water to the required consistency, slightly diluent than peanut butter. Refrigerating in a closed container for overnight or few hours will improve the flavor. You can make four cups from the given contents.
Hummus is basically prepared with sesame sees paste called tahini, which is rich in fat. For adding a bit traditional taste, ¼ of tahini or a 4-5 drops of dark sesame oil can be added, but this will somewhat increase the fat content. If you are using canned beans, make sure to take the ones without salt.
All the above healthy heart appetizer recipes are easy to make and are good in taste.
Although knowing that intake of certain foods may increase your risk of getting heart disease, it’s usually difficult to make changes in your eating habits. Whether you are following unhealthy eating habits for a long time or just want to tune your diet finely, here are few key tips on diet to prevent heart disease. Once you understand which food should be consumed more and which food should be restricted, you will be on the right track to keep your heart healthy.
Key Tips for Healthy Heart Diet
Since, being overweight or obese may increase your risk of developing cardiac disease, you need to make certain changes in your diet along with performing regular exercise. Here are a few key tips that will contribute in maintaining a healthy heart.
Include More Fruits and Vegetables in Your Diet
Fresh fruits and vegetables are healthy sources of minerals and vitamins. They contain good amount of essential dietary fiber and less amount of calories. Veggies and fruits are rich in healthy substances that are found in plants and which are helpful in preventing cardiovascular disease. Consumption of more veggies and fruits may make you feel full and thus decrease your intake of high calorific foods such as cheese, snack foods and meat.
You can feature fruits and vegetables in your diet very easily. Keep washed and cut vegetables in refrigerator for your quick snacks. Prefer to keep the bowl of fruits in the kitchen, so that you can remember to have it anytime you feel hungry. Choose recipes that contain fruits or vegetable as the major content. This may include fresh vegetable or fruits salads, stir fry vegetables, etc.
Vegetables and fruits that you often eat should have low sodium content. Vegetables and fruits that should be avoided are vegetable cooked in creamy sauces, coconut, sugar added frozen fruits, canned fruits in thick syrup.
- Keep a Track of Your Portion Size
In addition to what you eat, how much you eat also matters a lot. Overloading your dish, eating till you feel stuffed and taking seconds to finish your meal may lead you to consume extra calories, cholesterol and fats. To avoid this situation, keeping the track of the servings you eat is essential. For controlling serving portions, you need to have proper meals sizes. Each of your meal portion should include nutrient-rich and low calorific foods such as vegetables and fruits, while high-sodium and high calorific foods such as refined, fast,and processed food should be avoided. This food may increase your body fats and thus may tend to cardiovascular disease.
Serving portion can be defined as the particular amount of food preferred for intake. It can be defined by general measurements such pieces, ounces or cups. For instance, one serving of meat, chicken or fish is 2 to 3 ounces depending upon their thickness. You may have to learn how to divide your meal portions for avoiding excessive intake.
Prefer to Include Whole Grains in Your Meal
Whole grains are rich sources of various nutrients and fiber that contribute a lot in regulating the heart health as well as blood pressure. You can include the whole grains in your regular diet instead of the refined grain products or be little adventurous and include whole grain barley, couscous or quinoa. Another way can be adding ground flaxseed of whole grain in your diet. These are tiny brown seeds that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids and fiber, which help to lower your overall blood cholesterol content. You can grate these seeds in food processor or coffee grinder and add a teaspoon on them into hot cereal, applesauce or yogurt.
Grain products you can add in your diet: Whole grain bread and flour, high fiber cereal, barley, brown rice, buckwheat, ground flaxssed and oatmeal.
Grain products you should avoid: Frozen waffles, granola bars, muffins, white bread, pies, cakes, biscuits, corn bread, quick breads, dough-nuts, egg noodles, etc.
Add Low-fat Protein
Fish and poultry, low-fat dairy products, lean meat, and egg white are considered as healthy sources of protein. But be sure to pick low fat products such as skinless chicken breast instead of fried chicken patties and skim milk instead of whole milk. You can also prefer fish as a substitute to high-fat meats. Some type of fish contains omega-3 fatty acids which help to reduce the triglycerides (fats in the blood). It is found that the cold water fish (herring, mackerel and salmon) contains great amount of omega-3 fatty acids. Other sources can be canola oil, walnuts, soybeans and flaxseed.
Peas, lentils and beans (legumes) are also rich in proteins and less in fats. They have no cholesterol which makes them a good alternative of meat. You can also prefer to substitute plant protein sources for animal protein sources; for instance, a bean or soy burger for a hamburger. This will help you restrict the intake of extra cholesterol and fat in your diet.
Beneficial protein sources: Cold water fish (salmon), low fat or skin milk, egg whites, cheese, legumes, tofu, soy products, soybean, lean ground meat, skinless poultry, etc.
High calorie protein sources: Spareribs, full fat dairy products, cold cuts, breaded meats, marbled and fatty meats, organ meats (liver), bacon, sausages and hot dogs, egg yolk, etc.
Restrict Unhealthy Cholesterol and Fats
Restricting your intake of trans and saturated fats is an essential step to cut down your blood cholesterol level and reduce your prospects of coronary artery disease. An increase in the level of blood cholesterol may lead to plaque deposition in the arteries, generally called atherosclerosis. This condition may elevate you risk of stroke or heart attack. Limiting the intake of solid fats is the best way to cut down the trans and saturated fats in your food.
Restrict the use of margarine and butter while coking and serving food. By choosing lean meats and trimming fat off the meat, you can cut down the intake of saturated fats.
Use low fat yogurt or salsa as a topping for baked potato instead of butter; sprinkle low sugar fruit on your toast rather than using margarine. Always choose monosaturated fats such as canola oil or olive oil. Polysaturated fats are heart healthy and are found in seeds and nuts.
Reduce Your Intake of Sodium
High level of sodium may contribute in elevating the risk of high blood pressure and cardiac disease. Reducing sodium intake helps a lot in controlling or preventing heart disease. Instead of preferring processed or canned foods, eat fresh and homemade food.
Low salt foods: Home prepared meals, reduced salt ketchup and soy sauce, spices and herbs.
High salt foods: Soy sauce, frozen dinners, table salt, processed or canned soups, tomato juice.
Prepare a Chart of Daily Menus
You know well which foods should be included in daily healthy diet and which ones should be restricted. Now it’s time follow and add those food items in your diet. While choosing food items for each snack and meal, emphasize on whole grains, fruits and vegetables. Limit salty and high fat and prefer lean protein sources. Keep a track of the portion sizes and include various items in your menu. For instance, if you had black bean burger one night, try grilled salmon the next evening. This makes certain that you will get all the essential nutrients required for staying healthy. Variety in snacks and meals can add more interest.
Occasional Treat Can Be Preferred
Occasional treats will probably won’t disturb your healthy diet. A handful of potato wafers or a candy bar is good for a change. Try and learn to balance things and avoid excess consumption of any food.
Incorporating the above tips on diet to prevent heart disease into your life can help you to have a heart healthy diet that is enjoyable for your taste buds too.
Heart disease or cardiac disease is an outcome of deposition of plaque in the coronary arteries; this condition is called atherosclerosis, which causes blockages. The arteries which were elastic and smooth become rigid and narrow, limiting the blood supply to the cardiac system. The heart is deprived of the vital nutrients and oxygen, which are required for its functioning (pumping). Coronary arteries are the main blood vessels that supply blood, nutrients, and oxygen to the heart; when these vessels get diseased or damaged due to the continuous build up of plaque (deposits of cholesterol), a person may develop coronary artery disease.
The accumulation of plaque narrows the arteries, which causes the cardiac system to receive lesser amount of blood. The decreased blood flow ultimately develops symptoms like shortness of breath, angina (chest pain) or other signs and symptoms of coronary heart disease. A complete clogging may cause a heart attack (cardiac arrest). Since the process of plaque accumulation often occurs gradually, it can remain unnoticed until a person undergoes a cardiac attack. But there are plenty of options to opt for preventing and treating this medical emergency. You can initiate by commending a healthy lifestyle.
About the Cardiac System
The heart is a muscle, which is similar to the size of a fist in an adult human. Normally, it beats nearly 70 times in a minute and provides oxygen rich blood throughout the body. From the heart, the blood travels toward the lungs for collecting oxygen. This oxygenated blood returns from the lungs to the cardiac system and is then pumped to other body organs through the arteries. The blood again returns to the cardiac system through the veins and is then pumped back to the lungs. This entire process in which the blood flows towards the lungs to receive oxygen and then return to the heart and from there gets distributed to the other body parts and then again back to the lungs is called circulation. Heart muscles receive oxygen through the network of blood vessels or coronary artery.
Coronary Artery Disease: How Does it Develop?
The process of cholesterol or plaque buildup in the walls of the blood vessels may begin when a person is young. As the person gets older, the burden of plaque deposits increases, inflaming the blood vessel and elevating the risk of formation of blood clots and thus heart attack. The cholesterol deposits release chemicals that encourage the healing process, but make the inner area of the blood vessel sticky. This stickiness attracts other substances such as calcium, lipoproteins and inflammatory cells that move into the bloodstream towards itself (inside the walls of the blood vessel).
Ultimately, a narrowed artery may produce new blood vessels for supplying blood to the cardiac system. However, in some cases, due to stress and overexertion, the new developed arteries may become unable to supply adequate amount of oxygenated blood to the muscle of the heart. During such times, a blood clot may completely stop the blood flow towards the heart muscle, causing cardiac arrest. If a blood vessel that supplies blood to the heart gets blocked due to the clot, an ischemic stroke may occur. If the arteries within the brain rupture, usually as an outcome of high blood pressure or uncontrolled hypertension, a hemorrhagic stroke may occur.
Facts Related to Coronary Heart Disease
Coronary artery disease can also be called Coronary Heart Disease (CHD), which affects almost 14 million Americans. This disorder develops when many substances such as the plaque (scar tissue), calcium and fatty material accumulate inclusively in the arteries that supply blood to the myocardium (heart muscle). These arteries are responsible for providing oxygen and other nutrients to the myocardium required for pumping blood. Here are a few facts related to the coronary heart disease:
- The plaque starts accumulating over the time and eventually narrows the artery which interrupts the blood supply to the cardiac system.
- This plaque may sometimes completely obstruct blood flow, which may lead a person to myocardial infarction (heart attack) or a sudden cardiac arrest (a fatal disturbance in rhythm).
- Interruption and slowing of blood supply may cause angina or chest pain.
- Coronary heart disease is considered as the major cause of disability and death in Americans. It is one of the seven leading causes of death.
- The heart is divided into four chambers: a ventricle and an atrium on the left and a ventricle and an atrium on the right.
- Blood returning to the cardiac system through the veins from all over the body moves into the right atrium.
- From the right atrium, the blood travels into the right ventricle, which is then pumped again to the lungs for collecting oxygen.
- The oxygenated blood moves into the left atrium and from there it travels into the left ventricle, which is then pumped into the arteries throughout the body with higher pressure.
- This complete procedure generates one heartbeat.
- The process of contraction or pumping of the left ventricle should be very powerful because it is required for keeping the blood moving throughout the body and thus maintaining the normal heart beat.
- The strength and capacity of the heart muscle depends on the nutrients and oxygen supply coming through the coronary arteries.
- Coronary arteries are generally elastic, quite flexible and strong. The cardiac system has three major and prime coronary arteries.
- Among the three major arteries, two arise or are attached with a common stem, which is known as the left main coronary artery.
- The left side of the heart receives blood from the left main coronary artery.
- The back and the left lateral side of the heart receives blood from the LCX (left circumflex).
- The front part of the cardiac system receives blood from the LAD (left anterior descending).
- Ultimately, the RCA (right coronary artery) is separate, and it provides the bottom and the right parts of the cardiac system.
- During childhood, the inner wall of the coronary arteries is smooth, which allows easy blood flow. As a person ages, the accumulation of calcium and cholesterol content in the walls of the arteries increases, which narrows them and makes them less elastic as well as thicker.
- Unhealthy eating habits such as consumption of fats and high cholesterol diet and certain pattern of lifestyle such as lack of exercise, drinking alcohol and smoking can accelerate the fat and calcium deposit within the inner wall of the arteries.
The process of plaque deposition is called hardening of the arteries or atherosclerosis. These deposits eventually clog the blood vessel and obstruct the flow of blood through the arteries. Plaque deposits are like a rigid shell which has a soft inner core comprising cholesterol. During each heartbeat, as the blood hits these deposits, they may rupture and the inner cholesterol core gets exposed, which results into clotting of blood. Clots may create interruption in the smooth blood supply, causing angina (severe chest pain) or even completely blocking the artery.
Ultimately, it can be said that coronary artery disease or coronary heart disease is caused due to the narrowing of the arteries, which is a result of plaque deposition. Avoiding cholesterol rich and fatty foods can help to prevent this fatal medical condition.
Are the symptoms of heart attack the same for men and women? Previously, it was considered that men and women had different symptoms of heart disease; however, this may not be the fact. Both men and women may undergo non typical or typical warning signs such as sweating, pain in the throat, arm, jaw, nausea, unusual pain and severe pain in the center of the chest. However, women may often describe these signs differently than men. Yet, the most common warning sign in men and women is still chest pain. Here we have shared a few facts about women and heart attack.
Cardiovascular disease or coronary artery disease (stroke and heart disease) ranks second in the list of life threatening diseases in women. Some of the heart diseases may errupt suddenly, while few may develop gradually. Women tend to protect themselves from heart disease before their menopause because of the conservative or preventive effect of estrogen (hormone). However, few cases may have a different scenario. For instance, a diabetic woman in her pre-menopausal period is at the same risk as men of the similar age, since diabetes eradicates the protective or preventive effect of estrogen.
Unique Conditions in Women Related to Stroke and Heart Disease
While majority signs and risk factors of heart disease are same for men and women, there are a few unique factors that develop the risk of cardiac disease in women. The factors that affect women’s health include:
- Oral contraceptives or birth control pills
- The role of estrogen
- Hormone therapy and menopause
Every year, thousands of people die from cardiac arrest because they do not receive the required medical assistance immediately. Learn to identify the symptoms of cardiac arrest, so you can immediately get the medical aid and save your life. It is significant to understand that the alarming signs may differ for each individual and they may not essentially be severe or sudden.
Although discomfort or pain in the chest is the most common sign of a cardiac failure in both women and men, some patients will not undergo pain in chest at all, while others will suffer only gentle discomfort or chest pain. Few may experience a single symptom, while others may suffer a combination of signs. The common symptoms of heart attack include:
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain or discomfort (squeezing, uncomfortable chest pressure, heaviness or burning, pain or fullness)
- Light headedness
- Discomfort due to pain in other upper body areas (back, jaw, arms, shoulder, neck)
If you observe any of these indications even in their gentle form, you must:
- Call your local emergency number or 911 immediately or ask someone to call for you. Make sure that you keep a list of emergency phone numbers all the time near your phone.
- If your doctor has prescribed you nitroglycerine, take it in your regular dosage.
- Stop all your activities and lie down or sit in your most comfortable position.
- Rest comfortably till the ambulance with medical personnel arrives
- In case of severe chest pain, take 2 aspirins of 80 mg each. It is also called acetylsalicylic acid (ASA). Other pain medicines such as Advil or Tylenol do not work as the ASA does, and hence they cannot be used in emergency situations.
Steps to Prevent Heart Attack
It is a fact that heart attack is more prominent than breast cancer among women. It has three times more possibilities of developing in women. In the duration following menopause, the risk of heart disease significantly rises. But it can be prevented by taking certain steps or by making certain changes in the lifestyle.
- Be Active: Being active means doing physical workout regularly for protecting the heart. You can try various workout styles, including regular aerobic as well as swimming and walking. Take stairs instead of an elevator or perform aerobic activity (fast walking or cycling) with moderate intensity for around one to two hours. Cycling helps a lot in burning extra fats and thus helps to control cholesterol.
- Lose Weight if You are Overweight: Obesity can be called a disorder which is present in every five women among ten. Carrying extra pounds increases strain on the heart and a person tends to increase her chances of developing high cholesterol and high blood pressure, which also elevate the risk of heart attack. Try to avoid being overweight and maintain your weight.
- Regular Medical Checkup: If you are above 40 years, ask your doctor for health checkup in order to assess your risk of getting heart disease. Your regular medical checkup should include cholesterol level test and blood pressure checkup. If the level of cholesterol or blood pressure is high, this means you are at a higher risk of developing cardiac disease. Your health care practitioner will prescribe few medications and will recommend certain lifestyle changes to reduce the blood pressure as well as the level of cholesterol.
- Change your Body Shape: As your weight, your shape also matters a lot. Most women in the age group of 40 to 60 become apple shaped due to the deposition of excess fat around the waist portion. Women with apple shape body are at more risk compared to the women with pear shape body, where extra fat is concentrated on the hip portion. Having a waistline around 80 cm can reduce your risk.
- Drink Occasionally: Drinking a little amount of alcohol can be good for the cardiac system, but assure that you follow the limits wisely. Excessive consumption of alcohol may increase your risk. Heart healthy drinking (one to two units per day) is ok, but if you drink beyond this, you may increase your risk. Binge-drinking or excess alcohol may impair the muscles of the heart to cardiac failure or abnormal heart rhythms.
- Quit Smoking: If you are a smoker, then you are at higher risk of getting heart attack. For the past few decades, even women have started smoking, which has increased their risk of getting a cardiac arrest early. Actually, young women are more into smoking as compared to young men. Restricting cigarette smoking will reduce your prospects of developing cardiac arrest.
- Don’t Rely on Hormone Replacement Therapy: It was considered that HRT (hormonal replacement therapy) for treating menopausal symptoms can work as a preventive solution for heart disease. But recent studies state that this therapy is not protective, instead it has some side effects with certain drug treatments. You can prefer to take HRT if you require it for getting relief from the night sweats and hot flushes during menopausal duration, but don’t expect that this will protect your cardiac system.
- Maintain Your Diet: Eat healthy and balanced diet always. Avoid intake of excessive saturated fat and salt; recommended quantity for per day is less than 6g.
- Cope with Your Stress: Many studies have revealed that stress increases one’s prospect of heart disease. Learn to deal with stress and try to relax if you often remain under stress. Your doctor can suggest you certain simple techniques that are helpful to cope with stress and anxiety that affect you in your daily life.
These are the facts that connect women and heart attack. Your prospects of getting a cardiac disease can be reduced by following the above mentioned preventive tips wisely.
Congestive heart failure diagnosis is based on certain aspects such as the relevant medical history of a patient, risk factors, selected medical test and a prudent physical examination. A thorough history of the patient may divulge the presence of one or more warning signs of cardiac failure. Additionally, a history of prior cardiac arrest, significant use of alcohol, diabetes, hypertension or coronary heart disease can be clues. The physical evaluation focuses on detecting the quantity of the fluid accumulated in the body (neck veins, leg swelling, or breath sounds) as well as cautiously characterizing the heart’s condition (murmurs, heart sounds, pulse and heart size).
The doctors who deal with the heart related issues are called cardiologists. Some doctors have training in advanced and additional areas which involve non-invasive studies where they use radioactive drugs or dyes for studying the function and structure of the heart (nuclear cardiology), echocardiography, cardiac rhythm disorders or abnormal heart beats (electrophysiology), cardiac catheterization and radiologic heart imaging.
Why Tests and Exams ?
Once the patient visits the cardiac center, the doctor will examine his/her signs and symptoms of cardiac failure:
- Edema (swelling on the leg)
- Breathing problems or fast breathing
- Veins in the neck are distended
- Swelling on the abdomen or liver
- Abnormal heart sounds with fast, irregular or uneven heart beat
- Doctors use their stethoscope to listen the sound that develops during the build up of fluid (crackles) into the lungs.
Many tests are performed to find the cause, monitor the cardiac failure and diagnose the exact condition.
An X-ray, echocardiogram, electrocardiogram and MRI are best for having a visual idea about the cardiac system. The cardiologists often use these images as a guide for opting the right treatment.
- Diagnosing and monitoring heart failure
- Finding out possible causes and other disorders that may lead to this medical condition
- Identifying the risk factors
- Monitoring the side effects of drugs that a patient might be taking
Medical Tests for Diagnosing Congestive Cardiac Failure
Cardiac specialists use various medical tests for diagnosing the cardiac failure. The most preferred tests are as below:
Chest X-ray: This technique helps to get an x ray image that shows the shape and size of the heart and lungs. In cardiac failure, the accumulated fluid in the lungs can be seen and the enlarged shape of the heart is also visible. An X ray is also used to detect other medical conditions.
Blood Tests: This test may indicate the presence of other disorders that impair the cardiac system. A blood test is helpful in checking the levels of B-type natriuretic peptide or BNP (hormone). When your heart overworks, it tends to secrete B-type natriuretic peptide in excess or at greater level, and this levels indicates that a patient is undergoing heart failure.
Electrocardiogram (ECG): Electrocardiogram is used to measure the electrical impulses produced by your heart. In this process, doctors locate electrodes or sensor patches attached with wires on your skin. Electrocardiogram helps to reveal any damage to the cardiac system and heart rhythm disorder due to a previous attack.
Angiogram or Coronary Catheterization: This test uses a catheter (a thin, elastic tube), which is inserted into a blood vessel of the elbow or groin (upper thigh) and guided to the heart. A dye that makes the arteries visible under the x-ray is injected into the arteries that move towards the heart. Angiogram helps to identify the narrowed arteries moving towards the heart (coronary heart disease), which may develop congestive cardiac failure. This test is also beneficial to know the health of the heart valves and the strength of the left ventricle (main pumping chamber of the cardiac system).
Myocardial Biopsy: In this test, a tiny flexible biopsy cord is inserted into a vein in your groin or neck to take off some tiny pieces of the cardiac muscle. Myocardial biopsy is performed to detect certain forms of cardiac muscle diseases that may result into cardiac failure.
Magnetic Resonance Imaging or MRI: In this technique, radio waves and magnetic field are used to develop detailed and clear visuals of the cardiac system.
Echocardiogram: This technique uses sound waves to create a clear and detailed picture of certain factors such as the size, function and stricture of the cardiac system. These images allow doctors to determine the pumping capacity of the heart and differentiate between various forms of heart failure. An echocardiogram also measures the ejection fraction (how much percentage of blood is pumped by the major blood supplying chamber of the heart).
Right Heart Catheterization: This technique requires a catheter (a thin elastic tube) to be inserted into a vein (blood vessel) in the groin or neck of the patient. They direct the catheter to the cardiac system and thus measure the pressure within the chambers of the heart. This process helps to opt for heart failure treatment.
Multiple-gated Acquisition Scanning(MUGA) or Radionuclide ventriculography: This is a nuclear medicine test in which a small amount of radioactive dye is injected into the vein and a special camera is used to see the percentage of blood pumped by your heart with each beat. Outcome of these tests allows the doctors to determine the causes of the symptoms and schedule a treatment plan. Cardiologists categorize or measure the cardiac failure on the basis of a standard scale that ranges between I to IV. A cardiac failure of class I type is considered as the moderate form, in which the patient is able to perform the routine activities normally without feeling stressed, fatigued or winded, whereas the patients at class IV level are considered to be in the extreme severe condition in which they experience shortness in breathing even while resting.
Stress Tests: This is an exercise test in which the patient is asked to workout on a stationary bicycle or a treadmill or take a dose of drug that will boost the activity of the heart during the workout. An electrocardiogram is used to monitor each activity of the heart when a person in performing activities. The stress test allows your doctor to judge the effectiveness of your therapy and plan for more advanced therapies. Various form of stress examinations measure the response of the cardiac system to workout in various manners and situations. Few cardiac centers throughout the world have the advanced equipment to measure the relaxation effect of the cardiac system to the exercise. They perform a test to analyze diastolic cardiac failure.
The above mentioned medical techniques require expertise and specialization for appropriate diagnosis. All the methods are commonly used for congestive heart failure diagnosis. The symptoms of this medical condition develop with build up of plaque deposits and the process of deposition is gradual. If the patient observes the symptoms in the early stages and gets it diagnosed immediately, his/her chances of recovering from this medical condition increases.
Congestive heart failure may sound frightening, but it can be cured with the help of advance medicines and treatment if diagnosed within few hours after the symptoms. In this medical emergency, the heart becomes unable to pump oxygen rich blood throughout the body. There are certain reasons or other medical conditions which tend to develop cardiac failure in a person:
- Disorders that cause heart muscle stiffening.
- Disorders that damage the heart muscle and weaken them.
- Diseases or disorders that increase the demand of oxygen by the body cells beyond the capacity of the heart.
Our heart is divided into two chambers: the upper chamber and the lower chamber. The upper chamber has two atria (left atrium and right atrium) and the lower chamber has two ventricles (right ventricle and left ventricle). The ventricles or muscular chambers pump blood when the muscles of the heart constrict. The process of ventricle muscle contraction is called systole.
Several medical conditions can damage and weaken the muscles of the ventricle and make them unable to pump adequate amount of blood. This disease can be infection (myocarditis), heart attack, toxins(some chemotherapy drugs, alcohol), etc. The inability of the ventricles to pump blood due to the weakening of muscle is called systolic dysfunction. After every systole (ventricular contraction), the muscle of the ventricle needs to relax, which allows the blood to get filled in the ventricles from the atria. This relaxation of the ventricle is referred as diastole.
Disorders such as amyloidosis or hemochromatosis (overload of iron) can stiffen the cardiac muscle and harm the capacity of ventricles to relax and fill; this is called diastolic dysfunction. The prime cause of this condition is longstanding hypertension or high blood pressure that thickens the heart (hypertrophied). In some patients, the pumping and filling capability of the cardiac system is normal, but the abnormally high demand of oxygen by the body tissues (sometimes due to anemia or hyperthyroidism) may trouble the heart in supplying adequate amount of blood, which ultimately results into high output heart failure. In few patients, more than one factor may cause congestive heart failure.
Few Facts about Congestive Heart Failure
This disorder develops when the heart fails to pump enough blood throughout the body. As an outcome, the body organs are deprived of oxygen and nutrient rich blood. Although the term “ heart failure” may sound frightening, it does not mean that the heart literally stops beating or working completely. But it does not work in an efficient manner.
In North America, more than 6 million people get affected by CHF. It is the prime cause for the hospitalization of people above 65 years old. Each congestive heart failure is associated with around 300,000 deaths.
As per studies, men get more prone to this medical condition as compared to women. It is observed that Africans have comparatively more chances of CHF than Europeans; their death rate is also high.
CHF have two basic problems:
Systolic Dysfunction: This occurs when the heart is unable to pump and supply enough blood to various body parts as per their requirement.
Diastolic Dysfunction: This occurs when the heart is not able to accept all the blood being supplied to it.
Several people undergo both diastolic and systolic heart failure.
Effects of Congestive Heart Failure on Various Body Organs
Cardiac heart failure may affect several body organs. For example:
- The lungs may get filled or congested with fluid causing pulmonary edema, which may decrease a person’s ability to workout.
- The intestine may become less efficient or weaken in absorbing the medicines and nutrients.
- The impaired cardiac muscles become unable or fail to supply the required amount of blood to the kidneys. This may cause the inability of the kidney to excrete water and salt (sodium). This disturbed functioning of the kidney may cause the body to build up fluid.
- This fluid may compile in the liver, thereby damaging its potential to eliminate the toxins from the body and develop essential proteins.
- Fluid may also accumulate in the external body parts, resulting in swelling (edema) of the feet and ankle.
Eventually, unnoticed, untreated and worsening cardiac failure will impair each of the body organs.
Several health problems may cause cardiac failure:
- Unrelenting high blood pressure develops force in the arteries which pressurizes the heart to pump more blood, which as a result weakens with time. Patients with uncontrolled blood pressure are at greater risk of developing CCF.
- Coronary artery disease is a medical emergency that narrows the arteries and interrupts the passage of blood flow towards the heart. This may as a result weaken and impair the various cardiac sections.
- Cardiac arrest impairs the muscles of the heart. The heart attack victims have greater possibilities of developing heart failure.
- Arrhythmias or abnormal heart beats may disturb the pumping action of the heart.
- Diabetes increases the risk of CHF.
- Heart valve may get damaged due to infection or rheumatic disease.
- Heart valve disease may develop due to the abnormalities present in a person since birth, or it may also develop over time.
- The heart chambers are divided by a wall and an enlargement in this wall may also be a cause. Enlarged wall can be a genetic condition.
- If the heart muscle develops a viral infection, it may weaken the heart causing cardiac failure.
- Certain problems of the kidney that elevate blood pressure and build up fluid can raise the chances of CCF by developing extra stress on the heart.
Additionally, all the risk factors that are responsible for increasing the chances of heart disease such as obesity, smoking, excessive alcohol intake, also elevate one’s chances of congestive cardiac failure.
Complications and Symptoms of Heart Failure
- It develops new muscle tissue which helps to pump harder.
- It dilates or enlarges to form a huge pump.
- It beats with faster rate.
When the heart compensates, a number of changes take place which ultimately develop symptoms. The heart fails to pump adequate amount of blood through the body, which results into the accumulation of fluid in the lungs and legs due to the back up of blood. This develops remarkable swelling on the legs and ankles and shortness of breath.
The most common warning signs may include:
- Wheezing and coughing
- Shortness of breath
- Weakness and fatigue
- Swollen ankles
- Breathing problem during the night or while lying down
Other symptoms may include:
- Fluid accumulation in the abdomen
- Urination at night
- Bluish skin around the mouth
- Cold feet or hands and pale skin
- Bloating, loss of appetite or abdominal pain
Causes and symptoms of congestive heart failure can be treated by prompt medical treatment, required changes in diet and intake of prescribed medicines on a regular basis.
Almost 6 million people in America are prone to cardiac failure. It is one of the leading cause for people above 65 years of age to get hospitalized. Cardiac failure is a chronic condition which develops gradually over the time. After diagnosis, the treatment option to be opted depends on the congestive heart failure stages and prognosis.
Cardiac failure or heart failure does not indicate that the cardiac system has stopped working completely; however, it refers to the condition in which the heat muscles get damaged or weakened due to certain reason and become unable to pump enough blood to the body parts. Due to this medical condition, blood flow through the heart and body slows down, thus increasing the pressure in the cardiac system. As a result, the body is deprived of the essential nutrients and oxygen. The heart chambers may respond and stretch a little or get thickened or stiffed to hold more blood for supplying to other body parts; however, this may eventually weaken the heart muscles and make them disable to pump efficiently. In this condition, the kidneys may start responding by retaining salt and fluid (water) into the body. If the fluid accumulates into the ankles, legs, arms, lungs, feet or other organs, a person may start feeling congested and this condition is defined as congestive heart failure. Once the heart failure is diagnosed, its evaluation becomes crucial. Doctors may ask the patient for the accurate and complete history of the symptoms.
Although this medical emergency is chronic (long-term condition), it may sometimes develop all of a sudden and may become a core reason for various heart problems. Cardiac failure may affect only the left or right side of the cardiac system. These are called left sided or right sided heart failure. In most cases, both sides of the cardiac system are involved.
Conditions during Heart Failure
- Heart muscles are not able to pump enough blood to fulfill the requirement of the body. This condition is referred as systolic heart failure.
- Heart muscles get stiffed and hence it becomes difficult for them to fill up with blood. This condition is refered to as diastolic heart failure.
Any of these conditions make the heart unable to pump the essential amount of oxygenated blood to the body organs. As the pumping capacity of the heart weakens, blood may start backing up into other body parts and the parts such as the arms, gastrointestinal tract, legs, liver and lungs get filled with fluid.
Usually, patients with coronary artery disease (CAD) have greater chances of developing failure in the functioning of the heart. CAD is a condition which refers to narrowing of the arteries or small blood vessels that are responsible for supplying oxygen rich blood to the cardiac system. If high blood pressure is not controlled appropriately, it may also lead to cardiac failure.
Other major causes may be:
- Heart attack or myocardial infarction
- Certain type of infection that impairs the heart muscle
- Congenital heart disease
- Arrhythmias or irregular/abnormal heart beat
- Heart valve disorder (this may occur in valves that are narrowed or leaky)
Congestive Heart Failure Stages
The American Heart Association has categorized this medical emergency into stages by considering the progression of cardiac failure.
Stage A : At this stage, the patient is at high risk of developing this condition.
Stage B: This stage involves a condition in which the left ventricle of the heart is dysfunctional or enlarged due to certain reason, but the patient does not show any symptoms (asymptomatic).
Stage C: Patients may start experiencing inability to workout, severe fatigue, shortness of breath, etc. This is called symptomatic cardiac failure.
Stage D: This can be considered as the last stage. Patients may undergo the symptoms in spite of rest and medical treatment. Mechanical devices, cardiac transplantation, end-of-life care or more aggressive medical treatment may be required.
The patients can be classified on the basis of their physical restrictions.
Class I: No symptoms while performing routine activities, no restrictions of physical activity or workout.
Class II: Symptoms may develop while performing certain routine activities, slight restrictions.
Class III: Symptoms may develop even with less physical activities, marked restrictions.
Class IV: A person may undergo symptoms even while resting, severe restrictions.
Symptoms and Signs
In some cases, patient with heart failure may not experience any problem. Early signs of heart failure may include cough, shortness of breath, or difficulty in taking a deep breath, mostly when lying down. If the patient has usual breathing problems such as emphysema, COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), or asthma, they should get a clue that they are undergoing an attack or certain heart worsening condition.
Shortness of Breath: A person with congestive cardiac failure may experience dyspne (difficulty in breathing), particularly while being active. Ordinary activities for example, walking, sweeping, doing routine tasks, etc., may be impossible or problematic. Shortness of breath can be relieved by taking rest. When the fluid gets filled into the lungs and starts interfering with the oxygen during blood oxygenation, the patient may experience orthopnea and dysnea. As the fluid deposits in the lungs become very critical, a foamy pink liquid may come out with cough.
Workout Intolerance: It means that a person becomes unable to tolerate physical exertion and sometimes routine activities that he or she may have been performing without any difficulty. The body requires nutrients and oxygen for performing any physical activity and an impaired heart is not able to fulfill the requirements of the body. The ability to workout or even perform some activity at a normal pace may get restricted due to severe fatigue and difficulty in breathing.
Swelling and Fluid Retention: Edema (puffy swelling) in the ankles, feet and legs may occur, especially after prolonged sitting or end of the day after office. Usually, the swelling is more evident on the lower leg or in the ankles at the front, where the tibia (bone in the leg) is near to the skin. Some patients may undergo severe swelling which may spread up till the abdominal wall, scrotum, hips and ultimately, the ascites (abdominal cavity). Patients should keep the track of his/her body weight on a regular basis, as the retention of fluid is often reflected by the increasing difficulty in breathing and amount of weight gain. Heart failure patients should know their dry weight (weight when they do not have pitting edema).
Pitting edema is a condition in which if the puffy area is pressed with finger, it will make an visible indentation for few minutes. This condition is not synonymous with cardiac failure; it may develop due to some other reasons such as kidney or liver failure. Generally, no pitting edema is caused due to heart failure.
Cardiac failure is a serious health problem that usually develops with age. Today, several victims are surviving with various heart diseases and are living a normal life. Some of them are unaware that they are developing a condition like heart failure. Recently, more effective therapies and medications have been evolved that enhance the outlook of this medical condition.
Medications and drugs are the protagonist of therapy with congestive cardiac failure.
- Implantable defibrillators and pacemakers have been modified. They are helpful in controlling the less common, but life-threatening disruption in the heartbeats.
- Novel and sophisticated treatments have proved beneficial for the patients to improve their quality of life and help them to live longer. New clinical trials and therapies are performed on patients under strict scientific and ethical monitoring.
- Certain sophisticated treatments such as use of LVADs, new form of temporary mechanical heart and heart transplants have been proved beneficial for many patients.
Understanding the congestive heart failure stages and prognosis in early days can help the patients to enhance their scope of survival for a long term. The therapies and medications show better result when used in early stages of heart failure.
Congestive heart failure indicates that the power of the heart to pump blood throughout the body reduces drastically than normal and a person starts developing its symptoms. After observing any of the symptoms, the patient should immediately consult a doctor for further diagnosis, confirmation and treatment. During diagnosis, the doctor will carry out certain medical and physical examinations along with considering the risk factors and medical history of the patient. When treating this medical condition, the goals are to improve symptoms, treat the core causes of heart failure and increase the chances of prolonging the life of the patient. Certain changes in lifestyle (such as exercising, changing eating habits and quitting smoking) and medications (such as diuretics and beta-blockers) are initial forms of treatment. For patients with severe cardiac failure, cardiologists may suggest heart transplant or mechanical heart pump.
Congestive heart failure treatment proves significantly helpful to improve the symptoms and aid the weakened cardiac function as effectively as possible. Heart failure specialists treat some patients by correcting the inexplicit cause of their condition, for example, by controlling the fast or abnormal heart beats, repairing or opening clogged arteries or replacing diseased valves. Cardiologists also treat other medical conditions that may contribute in aggravating the underlying cardiac problems such as anemia, thyroid problems, sleep apnea and other blood related abnormalities.
Few health care centers have doctors or cardiologists that are well equipped with advanced training in cardiac failure to treat the congestive heart failure patients. They have vast experience in all types of surgery for treating various heart related diseases. Surgeons often perform heart transplants, implant ventricular assist devices and minimally invasive cardiac surgery.
Doctors have Certain Goals for Treating Congestive Heart Failure (CHF)
While most victims with heart failure cannot be cured, changes in lifestyle and diet, medications and specialized treatment and care for those in advanced stages can often help to relieve symptoms and drastically enhance the quality of their lives. Specialized treatments can also prolong the life of a person by soothing the worsened condition to some extent. Since the causes of CHF vary for each person, the treatment options opted by the cardiologists may also differ.
The goals of CHF treatment are to:
- Improve the symptoms of a patient along with the quality of life
- Treat the core causes of heart failure
- Prolong the life of the victim
- Eliminate the causes and stop the condition from getting worse.
The doctor may also continue to treat other conditions or diseases that causes CHF (such as diabetes, high blood pressure or coronary artery disease).
What are the Options for Congestive Heart Failure Treatment?
Treatments for congestive cardiac failure may include medical devices, surgery, lifestyle changes and medications.
Biventricular Cardiac Heart Pacemaker: This can also be called cardiac resynchronization therapy (CRT) device. It sends electrical impulses to the lower chambers of the heart in a specific time. This device is used to treat the patients whose heart’s electrical conduction is abnormal or irregular and who have moderate to intense cardiac failure.
Ventricular Assist Device (VAD): This device is used for the patients whose weakened heart needs assistance in pumping blood. Surgeons implant VAD into the abdomen of the patient and connect it to the cardiac system. This can also be called mechanical cardiac pump that can be used as a bridge to cardiac transplant or as a permanent solution for patients who cannot undergo transplantation. VAD is suitable for most patients who are not left with any other treatment options.
Internal Cardiac Defibrillator (ICD): Surgeons implant internal cardiac defibrillator under the skin to monitor the abnormal or fast rhythms (arrhythmias) in patients undergoing heart failure. This device sends electrical signals to the cardiac system; if it detects abnormal or high rhythm, it will transform the beats into slow and more effective pumping.
Heart Transplant: Some patients with completely damaged cardiac system have to choose this treatment option.
Coronary Bypass Surgery: According to the diagnosis, if severly narrowed coronary arteries are found to be the reason for heart failure, most heart specialist may suggest coronary bypass surgery.
Heart Valve Replacement or Repair: Replacement or repair of heart valve is recommended to treat the underlying symptoms that have caused heart failure. This surgery will not only help to relieve the symptoms, but will also improve the quality of the patient’s life.
Myectomy: In this therapy, the overgrown septal muscle in the cardiac system is removed to eliminate the clogging that occurs in hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. Myectomy is usually performed when medications fail to relieve the symptoms.
Heart care specialists often use medications that are proven to increase the chances of survival and prolong life and relieve symptoms. The heart specialist may also prescribe certain medications that help to improve circulation, lower blood pressure and prevent clogging in the arteries or blood thinners to dissolve clots or prevent clotting.
A number of drugs may aid to treat the heart’s inability to pump enough blood through the respective chambers.
- Beta Blockers: These drugs help to lower blood pressure, slow the heart beat and reduce the risk of abnormal or irregular rhythms of heart.
- ACE (Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme) Inhibitors: These inhibitors improve blood flow, reduce blood pressure and decrease the workload of the heart.
- Angiotensin II (A-II) Receptor Blockers (ARBs): A-II receptor blockers have several benefits as compared to the angiotensin converting enzyme without any potential side effects such as persistent cough. It is useful in lowering down the blood pressure and enhance the heart efficiency to pump blood. These drugs may also amend the survival chances of the pateint following a heart attack. Candesartian and valsartan are the common forms of ARBs.
- Diurectics: This drug is used to prevent the accumulation of fluid in the body and lessen the accumulated fluid in the lungs by making breathing easy.
- Inotropes: These medications are intravenous and are used for the patient with severe heart failure. Inotropes help to improve the pumping action of the heart and keep the blood pressure under control.
- Digoxin: This drug can also be called digitalis. It helps to elevate the heart’s contraction strength, tends to reduce the fast heartbeat and controls the irregular heartbeat.
- Aldosterone Antagonists: These drugs may help to repeal scarring of the heart, encourage the cardiac system to work better, and prolong the life of the patient even with severe condition.
- Nesiritide: This medication is intravenous (given through vein). Nesiritide is a synthetic form of BN (B-type natriuretic peptide), a hormone that is produced naturally in the human body.
In some cases, cardiac failure becomes so severe that the patient needs to be kept under observation in the hospital. During treatment, the patient may be given some medications that help the heart to relieve the symptoms and pump appropriately.
Doctors may also provide supplement oxygen. Patients with severe condition may require supplemental oxygen for a long time.
Doctors may ask the patient to make few changes in their lifestyle; this can help the patient in relieving symptoms and preventing the disease from worsening. The possible changes in the lifestyle may include:
- Cutting off the intake of excessive sodium and fat in diet
- Limiting or avoiding the intake of alcohol
- Quitting smoking
- Limiting or avoiding caffeine intake
- Losing extra pounds if the patient is overweight or maintaining the healthy weight
- Exercising according to the schedule structured by the cardiac rehabilitation program or by their own
- Reducing stress and thus the chances of high blood pressure.
A typical congestive heart failure treatment program may usually include all the above practices compositely. There may be a few changes in this program for each individual.
The fundamental purpose of the heart is to pump blood to various body parts. The right side of the heart impels blood to the lungs to receive oxygen. This blood becomes oxygenated and returns to the left side of the heart and then from the left side it moves into the blood vessels which forms a circulatory system from where the blood is carried into the various parts of the body. Congestive Heart Failure (CHF) is the condition in which the heart becomes unable to pump and deliver oxygenated blood throughout the body.
The heart is divided into four chambers:
- There are two chambers at the upper side called atria and the two chambers at the lower side called ventricles.
- The body supplies blood through the veins to the right ventricle and right atrium, which is then pumped to the lungs.
- The left ventricle and left atrium collects blood from the lungs and then impels out into the arteries through the aorta. These arteries are mean to feed oxygenated blood to all the tissues and organs of the body.
- Since the function of the left ventricle is to supply blood to the whole body, it is stronger than the right ventricle.
Although the term heart failure sounds frightening, it does not mean that your heart stops working completely. It just indicates that the tissues of the body are unable to receive the required amount of oxygen and blood on a temporary basis. So, do not get discouraged if you came to know that you are undergoing heart failure. With the use of advance techniques for diagnosing and treating this medical condition, many patients are living longer and feeling better.
Overview of Congestive Heart Failure
In this type of medical emergency, the heart becomes weak and less powerful to supply oxygen rich blood to all the body parts. In this condition, the blood does not flow easily through the blood vessels and thus through circulatory system and starts developing pressure in the vessels due to build up fluid. Symptoms depend on which body part is deprived from the blood supply.
Symptoms also depend on which area of the body is most involved in the reduced pumping action.
- When the right ventricle (right side of the heart) stops functioning, a fluid builds up in the lower legs and feet. The prime indication of failure in the functioning of the right ventricle is puffy legs due to swelling (edema), especially pitting edema. In this condition, if a finger is pressed on the swollen part of the leg, it will leave an impression on it. Heart failure does not cause non-pitting edema.
- When the left ventricle (left side of the heart) stops working, fluid starts accumulating into the lungs and causes pulmonary edema or pulmonary congestion. This surplus fluid in the lungs creates difficulty in breathing (the airways do not expand properly when a person inhales), which may cause shortness in breathing even when a person is relaxing.
- As the condition with the right ventricle worsens, the abdomen eventually starts collecting fluid (ascites) and the upper legs start swelling. The fluid retention is accompanied with weight gain.
If this medical emergency is not treated early, it may worsen the condition of the patient over time. There are several causes of congestive heart failure and its outcome may differ for each individual. This emergency may develop step by step over many years or more speedily after a heart muscle disorder or a cardiac arrest. CHF is normally categorized into two types: systolic and diastolic heart failure. Possibilities of developing this CHF increases with age. In addition to this fact, it is observed that the patients who are at higher risk of developing heart disease are also at risk of developing CHF.
Systolic Heart Failure: When the heart fails to pump enough blood into the circulatory system due to the weakened muscles systolic, heart failure occurs.
Diastolic Heart Failure: When the heart is able to contract normally, but gets rigid or stiff during relaxing and refilling with blood, a person may tend to develop a diastolic heart failure. In this condition, the heart fails to fill with enough blood, which results into accumulation of fluid into the lungs and ultimately into symptoms of cardiac failure. This medical emergency is more common in women and patients above 75 years of age, particularly among those with high blood pressure.
Congestive Heart Failure Facts
- CHF is a medical emergency in which the heart is not able to pump adequate amount of blood to fulfill the requirements of the body.
- Symptoms of this disorder may vary for each person, but usually include diminished exercise capacity, severe fatigue, swelling on certain body parts and shortness of breath.
- Many processes accompanied with various diseases may damage the functioning of the heart as a pump and results into cardiac failure.
- This condition can be diagnosed appropriately by taking the medical history of the patient, performing certain laboratory tests and a careful physical analysis.
- The statistics of cardiac failure vary for people in different age groups. This condition affects around 25 percent of people at the age of 85 or above, 5 percent of people at the age of 75 percent or above and 1 percent of people at the age of 50 or above.
- The course of cardiac failure is extremely variable for each patient.
- The treatment options for this medical condition include medications, addressing potentially correctable factors, mechanical therapies, heart transplant, and lifestyle modifications.
- Most of the Medicare patients are hospitalized due to heart failure.
- The death rate from cardiac failure is nearly 10 percent after a year.
You can’t inverse many factors that lead to cardiac failure, but heart failure can usually treated with better outcomes. Medications can reduce the symptoms and signs of cardiac failure and thus help you live for more years. Certain changes in lifestyle such as reducing intake of fats, salt and cholesterol in your diet, exercising regularly, treating depression, managing stress, and especially shedding those extra pounds can actually enhance the quality of life. Controlling the risk factors and other disorders such as high cholesterol, coronary artery disease, high blood pressure, obesity and diabetes can work best to prevent the congestive heart failure.