Congestive Heart Failure

Congestive heart failure is a dramatic and potentially fatal occurrence. When there is no longer enough oxygen being transported in the blood stream, the heart can not maintain its function. Many people who have a first heart attack do not know that they have congestive heart failure until the heart attack happens. Five million American adults have heart failure. Between 400,000 and 700,000 new cases of heart disease are identified every year. Congestive heart failure is a contributing factor is the deaths of 300,000 more individuals each year.

The causes of congestive heart failure are not immediately known. In treating a heart attack, the priority is to restore function and keep the patient alive. After the patient is stable, testing may begin to determine the exact nature of the heart problem. Coronary artery disease may be underway with plaque blocking the arteries for years before it is detected.

These problems may be due to a structural problem such as aortic or mitral valve prolapse. The mitral valve that opens and closes between heart chambers can stick, like a door sticks, open or shut. Blood may back up into the system causing still more problems. Persons with high blood pressure are at risk for congestive heart disease and must make every effort to keep blood pressure controlled.

A lesser known cause of heart problems is Cardiomyopathy. This type of heart disease is due to an infection that enters the heart muscle. The inflammation in the heart muscle can be attributed to viral infection. There is no exact virus type or method which causes cardiomyopathy and there is no known cure. Once the heart is weakened from the infection, the weakened heart no longer pumps adequately and the result is congestive heart failure.

According to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute by age 40, one in five men and women are at risk for heart problems. Among people who are known to have this serious condition, 80% of men and 70% of women under age 65 die within eight years of their diagnosis with congestive heart disease. Not only does congestive heart disease affect the heart, but it also adversely affects the ability of the kidneys to process sodium and water.

The EKG test was shown to be an excellent means of identifying potential heart problems victims among 38,000 post menopausal women in a study reported in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association. This new information can help doctors make early diagnosis of heart disease and begin treatment before heart failure occurs.

An important part of recovery from heart problems is cardiac rehabilitation program. This program is multi-faceted with fitness evaluation, customized exercises, nutritional plan, medication management and behavioral counseling. Exceptional cardiac rehabilitation programs also offer voluntary counseling to help patients return to work or find other jobs if necessary as well as support groups for cardiac patients. The success of cardiac rehabilitation after congestive heart failure depends primarily on how much the patient participates in the programs and makes lifestyle changes.