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Congestive heart failure is the inability of the heart to supply sufficient blood flow to the entire body. This usually takes place when the body is congested with fluid or when the body needs more oxygen and nutrients than the heart can provide. A few signs or symptoms of this disease are shortness of breath, swelling of the legs and the inability to exercise. Many people are able to treat the disease through changing harmful daily activities. Simple changes like not smoking and changes in diet all contribute to bettering congestive heart failure. Other people suffer from the disease to the point that medications are taken regularly and surgeries to place pacemakers have to be done. For many people congestive heart failure is a chronic disease, meaning it occurs slowly for a long period of time. For others the disease is acute and the problems settle in quickly.
This form of heart disease is classified in many different ways. The different categories include, the side of the heart involved, whether the disease is caused through insufficient contraction or insufficient relaxation, and the degree of the illness. Congestive heart failure is separated and classified by the two sides of the heart because left side failure reflects the decrease of blood flow to the body and brain. While right side failure compromises pulmonic flow to the lungs. Although these two can be separated they can also be failing at the same time. The degree of illness is used because many people suffer from heart failure and other illnesses at the same time such as, diabetes, hypertension and renal failure.
There are many causes of heart failure. Cigarette smoking, obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure all contribute to many of the heart failure cases in America today. Other rare causes are HIV, abuse of drugs and alcohol, pharmaceutical drugs, and some viral infections of the heart. The drug abuse refers to the use of cocaine and the pharmaceutical drugs include chemotherapeutic agents.
Heart failure can be diagnosed through chest X-rays to check for enlargement of the heart. Blood tests are also used to check the level of electrolytes, renal function, liver function, thyroid function, and complete blood count. Monitoring a patient and consistently checking the measure of fluid is also used for the diagnosis of heart failure.
After diagnosis depending of the severity of the disease the doctor may recommend a pacemaker. This is a machine that uses electrical impulses to regulate the heart beat. Many pacemakers can be set externally by a doctor depending on the amount of help needed from the device. Medications prescribed by a doctor after being diagnosed would include Diuretics, also referred to as water pills, to remove excess fluid, Ace inhibitors would be taken to dilate the blood vessels and increase the blood flow throughout the body, Beta Blockers are used to reduce the workload of the heart and Digitalis helps to strengthen the hearts ability to pump the blood to the brain and lungs.