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Understanding Heart Failure

What is heart failure?

Physician Examining Tracing

Heart failure is the inability of the heart to supply oxygenated blood to the body tissues, which in turn causes poor circulation in those tissues. Some symptoms are: a reduced exercise capacity, shortness of breath and in severe cases a buildup of fluid in the extremities and in the lungs that can make breathing difficult even at rest.

There are two common types of heart failure. One caused by a weakened heart muscle and failure of the heart muscle to pump enough blood through the body. This type of heart failure is called a  systolic dysfunction. ,The other type of heart failure is a problem with the filling of the chambers of the heart leading to very high pressures, a stiff heart muscle and backing up of the blood into the lungs. This type of heart failure is called a  diastolic dysfunction. Some of the factors that contribute to heart failure are longstanding coronary artery disease, heart attack, high blood pressure and diabetes. In some people, heart failure can be caused by excessive alcohol intake, infections or inherited conditions of the heart muscle.

What are the treatments for heart failure?

Zambito Heart Center Heart Failure - Pacemaker

Treatment of heart disease is extensive but it is part of the routine care we provide at Zambito Heart Center. There are many different types of medicines to treat the different type and aspects of heart failure. They include: beta-blockers, ACE inhibitors or angiotensin receptor blockers, aldosterone blockers and sometimes nitrates and medications that relax the arteries of the body.  There are also indirect medical treatments such as: cholesterol-lowering therapies and blood thinners to prevent clots in the heart. Procedures that open up the blood circulation of the heart such as angioplasty and bypass can help improve heart performance, as well.  Finally, cardiovascular exercise is also a part of the improvement of heart failure patients. Strengthening the rest of the muscles of the body helps decrease stress on the heart during activity.

There are also a variety of implantable devices that can help regulate and improve the hearts performance when it is unable to function correctly on its own. Some of these devices are:

Defibrillators – Are designed to act as a replacement for the electrical current of the heart in order to prevent death from the heart rhythm suddenly stopping.

Resynchronization Pacemakers – These devices are used in more severe cases. Their purpose is to get the two sides of the heart to beat in a more efficient fashion and improve blood flow.

Implantable Heart Pumps – If your physician evaluates that your heart is no longer able to function reliably, even with your current treatments and interventions and you are likely to need a transplant, an implantable heart pump may be used to assist the function of your heart.

Living with heart failure is not only possible, it is a primary goal at our center. Integrating medical therapy, advanced monitoring, external and implantable devices and surgical intervention when necessary, allows more and more patients to live longer and have better-quality lives.