Congestive Heart Failure: Causes

SAMPLE EXCERPT:

If an individual can't walk fast or do minimal amounts of physical exertion without struggling to breathe or walk normally, those are symptoms that should convey a strong message that the heart is struggling to work effectively. Legs tend to become puffy and swollen when a person is having congestive heart failure, and "pitting edema" may occur as well (the skin is puffy) (O'Brien).

Diagnosis: When the above-mentioned symptoms are noticed and a visit to the doctor is in order, the physician may take the following tests: a) blood tests (which evaluate the functions of the kidney and thyroid); b) B-type Natriuretic Peptide (BNP) blood test; c) echocardiogram (checks on the function of the heart); d) Ejection Fraction (EF) (determines how well the heart is pumping); e) EKG -- checking electrical impulses through the heart; f) cardiac catheterization (is the problem caused by coronary heart disease?); and g) stress test (WebMd.com).

Pathophysiology of Congestive Heart Failure

Because there is no "single lesion" resulting from congestive heart failure, the pathophysiology of heart conditions is "complex," according to Francis and Tang writing in PubMed, the National Institutes of Health publication. What happens during a congestive heart failure event is the heart is temporarily "remodeled"; that is the shape and size and the function of the particular chamber of the heart is "grossly distorted" (Francis, 2003). Parmley also writing in PubMed explains that there is a "loss of muscle, decreased myocardial contractility, pressure or volume overload, or restricted filling" (Parmley, 1992). When the heart begins to fail to pump properly, there is increased heart rate, increased "catecholamines, activation of the renin-angiotensin system, and release of atrial Natriuretic peptides" (Parmley).

Etiology (or cause) of Congestive Heart Failure

The most familiar etiology of congested heart failure is "coronary artery disease" (Parmley, 1992). This occurs when blood flow and oxygen that normally goes into the heart is blocked by plaque that builds up in the coronary artery (PubMed). The plaque is basically acting to starve the heart of blood that the body needs. And when the plaque (composed of cholesterol and "other cells") becomes torn, that "triggers blood platelets and other substances to form a blood clot" and hence, blood continues to be blocked from arriving in the heart (PubMed). Going deeper into the causes of congestive heart failure, a person's unhealthy eating habits (lots of fat and food with high cholesterol) can lead to a build-up of plaque, which in turn can lead to congestive heart failure.

Medical Treatment -- Clinical Manifestations

Immediately upon entering an emergency room at a hospital the patient is hooked up to a heart monitor, and the patient also receives oxygen, to help the heart continue to work (PubMed). Medicines that are fed to the patient intravenously include possibly nitroglycerin and morphine, and if the heart rate is very abnormal, the doctor or nurse may give electric shocks. In some cases angioplasty may be used as a procedure; that is a "stent" is put into the coronary artery that is blocking blood, and it helps to open up that blocked artery (PubMed). After a heart attack, the victim may feel "sad" and also have anxiety about every activity he or she engages in (PubMed). But if the patient follows the guidelines of a healthier diet with some exercise, there is a strong possibility that he or she will be able to continue living.

In conclusion, the reasons why people have congestive heart failure are very well-known, and the actual failure of the heart is not a mystery to science and medicine. So if citizens follow healthy guidelines, which are perhaps not as well promoted as they could be, they can avoid, in most cases, congestive heart failure.

Works Cited

Emedicinehealth. (2014). Congestive Heart Failure Overview. Retrieved September 22, 2014,

from http://www.emedicinehealth.com.

Francis, G.S. (2003). Pathophysiology of congestive heart failure. PubMed. Retrieved

September 22, 2014, from http://www.ncbi.nim.nih.gov.

Mosalpuria, K., Agarwal, S.K., Yaemsiri, S., Pierre-Louis, B., Saba, S., Alvarez, R., and Russell, S.D. (2014). Outpatient Management of Heart Failure in the United States,

2006-2008. Texas Heart Institute Journal, 41(3), 253-261.

O'Brien, T.X. (2014). Congestive Heart Failure Risk Factors, Symptoms, and Signs.

Retrieved September 22, 2014, from http://www.emedicinehealth.com.

Parmley, W.W. (1992). Pathophysiology of congestive heart failure. PubMed. Retrieved

September 22, 2014, from http://www.ncbi.nim.nih.gov.

PubMed. (2013). Heart Attack. Retrieved September 22, 2014, from http://www.ncib.nim.nil.gov.

WebMD. (2012). Heart Disease and Congestive Heart…