WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF HEART FAILURE?
The two main types of heart failure are chronic heart failure and acute heart failure .
Chronic heart failure is more common and symptoms appear slowly over time and worsen gradually.
Acute heart failure develops suddenly and symptoms are initially severe. Acute heart failure either follows a heart attack that has caused damage to an area of your heart or, more frequently, is caused by a sudden lack of ability by the body to compensate for chronic heart failure.
If you develop acute heart failure, it may be severe initially but may only last for a brief time and improve rapidly. It usually requires therapy and administration of medication by injection (intravenously).
There is another type of heart failure: Heart failure of the right ventricle.
Heart failure usually results from damage to the main pumping chamber, the left ventricle, which supplies the body with blood. This may be due to muscle injury such as a heart attack or damage to the valves in the left side of the heart.
This causes congestion in the lungs and shortness of breath.
Sometimes, heart failure mainly affects the right ventricle which pumps blood to the lungs. This may be due to muscle injury, such as a heart attack localised to the right ventricle or damage to the valves in the right side of the heart.
This may cause congestion in the liver, intestines and fluid accumulation in the lower limbs.
Heart failure on both sides of the heart may be caused or worsened by irregular heart rhythms such as atrial fibrillation, which is usually a rapid and irregular heart rate that may prevent proper filling of the ventricles.
SYMPTOMS OF HEART FAILURE:
Heart failure symptoms can vary widely from person to person, depending on the type of heart failure you have. Therefore, you may experience all of the symptoms described here or just a few of them.
In the early stage, you are unlikely to notice any symptoms, but if your heart failure progresses you are likely to experience symptoms, which become more severe.
The main symptoms of heart failure are caused by fluid accumulation or congestion. and poor blood flow to the body. This section will explain these symptoms and provide tips on how to improve them.
SYMPTOMS CAUSED BY FLUID ACCUMULATION OR CONGESTION:
1. Shortness of breath
2. coughing/ wheezing
3. Weight gain
4. Swollen angles
SYMPTOMS RELATED TO THE REDUCED BLOOD FLOW TO PARTS OF THE BODY:
1. Tiredness/ fatigue
3. Rapid Heart rate
OTHER SYMPTOMS OF HEART FAILURE :
1. Loss of appetite
2. Need to urinate at night
In addition to the physical symptoms of heart failure, some people can be affected by the seriousness and severity of heart failure and may experience emotional symptoms, such as depression and anxiety.
However many of these symptoms you experience, it is important to monitor them on a daily basis. If you notice something new, or a symptom suddenly gets worse, you should tell your doctor or nurse without delay.
WHAT CAUSES HEART FAILURE?
This section lists the different conditions that can cause or trigger heart failure, explaining what each condition is and how it can cause heart failure. Simply click on any of the conditions below to learn more.
Some of the more common causes of heart failure include:
- Past heart attacks
- Coronary artery disease
- High blood pressure
- Heart valve disease
- Heart muscle disease or inflammation of the heart
- Congenital heart defects
- Lung conditions
- Alcohol / drug abuse
Less commonly, someone whose body is compensating well for his/her heart failure may develop symptoms if their heart is temporarily unable to keep up with their body’s needs. Conditions that can trigger this type of heart failure include:
- Kidney disease / poor kidney function
- Abnormal heart rhythm
- Overactive thyroid gland
If these triggers are treated the heart failure can often get better.
Other conditions, such as diabetes, may aggravate heart failure.
In addition people with heart failure frequently become symptomatic if they stop taking their medicines or do not follow their treatment plan properly.
For some people the cause of their heart failure is unknown, and they don’t have any of the conditions listed above. If you are unsure of the cause of your heart failure you should discuss it with your doctor.
Common tests for Heart failure :
If you suspect you have symptoms of heart failure you should talk to your doctor (normally your primary care physician / GP).
Your doctor will likely perform a thorough examination of your body and will ask you about your symptoms, your medical history and your lifestyle. It is important that you answer any questions as honestly and accurately as possible so that your doctor can make an accurate diagnosis and can work with you to find the best treatment.
If your doctor suspects you have heart failure he or she will probably suggest you have certain tests. These tests will help to show whether your heart is working properly and, if not, where the problem lies.
This section explains the tests your doctor may want you to have and what the test can show. Click on any of the tests to learn more.
The most common tests are:
- Medical history and physical examination
- Electrocardiogram (ECG)
- Blood tests
- Chest x-ray
Additional tests may be able to find out more about your heart failure or identify the cause. These include:
- Lung function tests
- Exercise testing
- Cardiac Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
- Cardiac catheterisation and angiography
- Nuclear medicines techniques
- Multi-slice Computer Tomography (MSCT)
As the symptoms presented to the doctor may vary widely between patients you may only receive a few of these tests, and it is very unlikely you will receive all of them. If you have any concerns regarding your tests, you should discuss them with your doctor.