Congestive Heart FailureWith congestive heart failure the heart beats weaker than normal decreasing the amount of blood that moves through the body while increasing in pressure inside the heart. Your heart may respond by enlarging to hold more blood to pump or by becoming stiff. The heart muscle walls eventually weaken and become unable to pump efficiently.
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Diagnosis and Treatment
A doctor will take a detailed medical history and, with a stethoscope, listen for fluid buildup in the lungs and heart. Blood tests will be conducted to check for kidney function. An X-ray will show whether the heart is enlarged and whether fluid has accumulated around it. An electrocardiogram can identify heart rhythm issues, and an echocardiogram can determine which chamber is causing the problem. Another test, called ejection fraction, measures how much blood is being pumped from the chambers, and helps classify the type of heart failure.
- angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors, which boost blood flow by widening blood vessels
- b-blockers, which slow the heart rate and cut hypertension
- digitalis, which helps the heart contract more strongly
- diuretics, which promote urination to prevent fluid retention in the body and especially the lungs.
Bypass surgery can help if blocked arteries are leading to heart failure, and heart valve replacement may also correct another leading cause. In extreme cases, patients will receive a heart transplant.