Part II Congestive Heart Failure-Symptoms, Diagnosing it and Rx.


Signs and Symptoms of CHF:

A number of symptoms are associated with heart failure, but none is specific for the condition. Perhaps the best known symptom is short of breath (called dyspnea). In heart failure, this may result from excess fluid in the lungs. The breathing difficulties may occur at rest or during exercise. In some cases, congestion may be severe enough to interrupt or prevent you from sleeping.

-Fatigue or easy tiring is another common symptom. As the heart’s pumping capacity decreases, muscles and other tissues receive less oxygen and nutrition, which are carried in the blood. Without proper fuel (oxygen from the blood) provided by our engine (the heart), the body cannot perform as much work as it use to do (just like going from in shape to out of shape in time). The ending line is this will result into fatigue.

-Fluid accumulation will cause swelling in the feet, ankles, legs, and occasionally the abdomen (if the fluid building up in the body gets severe), what we medically call edema.   Through gravity the blood goes backwards and our body allows water to transfer in the skin to allow the fluid to go somewhere other than the bloodstream to decrease fluid overload to the heart by compensating. It body compensates since the blood is going backwards from the heart causing fluid back up. Excess fluid retained by the body will result into weight gain, which sometimes occurs fairly quickly (if you have CHF already you should always call your M.D. if you weight gain is 3lbs or more in a week, odds are high this is due to fluid building up).

-Persistent coughing is another common sign, especially coughing that regularly produces mucus or pink, blood-tinged sputum. Some people develop raspy breathing or wheezing.

-Heart failure usually goes through a slow development process, the symptoms may not appear until the condition has progressed over the years. This happens because the heart first compensates by making adjustments with the heart that delay or slow down but do not prevent, the eventual loss in pumping capacity. In time failure happens, just like a car in when it gets older over several years is starts showing one problem after another and is exchanged for a newer car; same principle with the heart in that you show signs and symptoms as your heart starts to slow down to failure and its either treat the problem or get a transplant of the organ (which is unlikely to happen).  The heart first hides the underlying process but compensates by doing this to your heart:

1- Enlargement to the muscle of the heart (causing “dilatation”) which allows more blood into the heart.

2- Thickening of muscle fibers (causing “hypertrophy”) to strengthen the heart muscle, which allows the heart to contract more forcefully and pump more blood.

3- More frequent contraction, which increases circulation.

By making these adjustments, or compensating, the heart can temporarily make up for losses in pumping ability, sometimes for years. However, compensation of the organ can only last so long, not forever (like anything in life the living thing or an object will go through a ending life process to termination). Eventually the heart cannot offset the lost ability to pump blood, and the signs of heart failure appear.


In many cases, physicians diagnose heart failure during a simple physical examination. Readily identifiable signs are shortness of breath, fatigue, and swollen ankles and feet. The physician also will check for the presence of risk factors, such as hypertension, obesity and a history of heart problems.

Using a stethoscope, the physician can listen to a patient breathe and identify the sounds of lung congestion. The stethoscope also picks up the abnormal heart sounds indicative of heart failure.

If one or not both symptoms or the patient’s history point to a clear cut diagnosis, the physician may recommend any of a variety of laboratory tests, including, initially, an electrocardiogram (EKG), which uses recording devices placed on the chest to evaluate the electrical activity of a patient’s heartbeat which will be affected by CHF.

Echocardiography is another means of evaluating heart function from outside the body. This works through sound waves that bounce off the heart are recorded and translated into images. The pictures can reveal abnormal heart sizes, shape, and movement. Echocardiography also can be used to calculate a patient’s ejection fraction which is a measurement of the amount of blood pumped when the heart contracts.

Another possible test is the chest x-ray, which also determines the heart’s size and shape, as well as the presence of congestion in the lungs.

Tests help rule other possible causes of symptoms. The symptoms of heart failure can result when the heart is made to work too hard, instead of from damaged muscle (like in a heart attack). Conditions that overload the heart occur rarely and include severe anemia and thyrotoxicosis (a disease resulting from an overactive thyroid gland).

Treatment=Prevention as the number one therapy of CHF:

-If not diagnosed yet your already possibly ahead. Without this diagnosis you can get started on making yourself further away from being diagnosed with this disease. How to reach this goal is through living a routine life through healthy habits practiced, healthy dieting over all, and balancing rest with exercise during the week 30-40 minutes a day or 1 hour to 1.5 hours 3 times a week and not being obese. They all would benefit the heart in not stressing it out making the heart’s function harder in doing its function. When the heart stresses out it is at risk for lacking oxygen putting it at potential for angina (heart pain) to a heart attack with over time leading toward failure of the heart.

TAKE THE STEP AND GET ACTIVE OR CONTINUE TO STAY ACTIVE IN YOUR , with healthy eating balancing with rest as well!  Always check with your primary doctor first.



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