Dr. Nabil Ahmad is a cardiologist who has been practicing medicine in Cleveland, Texas, for over 19 years. Dr. Ahmad earned his medical degree from King Edward Medical University and completed his residency in internal medicine at Washington University. His fellowship was in cardiovascular disease at the University of Texas Medical Branch Hospitals. Dr. Ahmad is certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine in Internal Medicine and Cardiovascular Disease and by the American Board of Obesity Medicine in Obesity Medicine. Dr. Ahmad is affiliated with Emergency Hospital Systems and can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Take control of your heart health by learning more about congestive heart failure, which affects millions worldwide. Share this information with your loved ones and neighbors to create more robust and healthier communities.
More than 6 million people in the US suffer from congestive heart failure. It is also considered the leading cause of hospitalization in people over 65. Following is an interview with Dr. Ahmad, where he explains in detail and clarity the symptoms, causes, treatment, and prevention of congestive heart failure.
What is congestive heart failure, and what are its symptoms?
Congestive heart failure is when the body retains fluid, and patients develop symptoms because of this. The most common symptoms include leg swelling, trouble breathing, fatigue, dizziness, and sometimes rapid heart racing.
What are the risks factors for congestive heart failure?
Congestive heart failure is usually associated with patients with high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease. It is also common in people who suffer from sleep apnea. Typically, this condition happens more frequently in people as they age.
Does congestive heart failure present in the same way in all patients?
There are two types of congestive heart failure. In the first type, the heart pumps slowly, so the blood returning to the heart cannot be combined, so it goes back to the lungs, and legs, causing trouble breathing, swelling of the belly, or swelling of the legs.
The second type is systolic congestive heart failure which is more concerning and severe. In this type, the heart pump becomes weak, and the heart cannot pump blood to the body’s major organs, such as the brain, kidney, and liver. As a result, the blood returns to the lungs and the rest of the body. This type is more problematic and has the worst survival rate. If you feel like you have fatigue, shortness of breath, and swelling in your legs, and if you can’t do the things you did in the past, you should see your physician and be evaluated for congestive heart failure.
How is congestive heart failure diagnosed?
The diagnosis of congestive heart failure is made based on a clinical diagnosis. However, we can use specific tools for the diagnosis, such as an electrocardiogram (EKG), echocardiogram (an ultrasound image of the heart), and sometimes an ultrasound of the legs and chest X-ray.
What is the treatment of congestive heart failure?
Once we determine that you have congestive heart failure, there are two aspects of treatment. First, we must find out why you develop congestive heart failure. For example, if your congestive heart failure is associated with uncontrolled high blood pressure, your congestive heart failure will likely improve significantly if we control the blood pressure better. Suppose congestive heart failure weakens the heart muscle because of excessive blockages in the heart. In that case, we will remove those blockages to open the circulation of the heart, so the heart pump will likely get better.
The second aspect is treating the symptoms. We treat fluid retention with diuretics and water pills; we get medications like better blockers that relax the heart so it can pump more efficiently.
Sometimes congestive heart failure is associated with weakening heart muscles, and that can be dangerous because it can lead to fast, irregular heart rhythms, which could lead to passing out. Sometimes people can also develop sudden cardiac arrest, which is a very serious condition.
Can you prevent congestive heart failure?
Congestive heart failure can be prevented. If you have high blood pressure, you should ensure it is under control, and if you have diabetes, it should be well controlled. You must screen for cardiac disease. If you have sleep apnea, you want to make sure you get treatment for that, and you want to make sure your cholesterol is good. It is also recommended to exercise and maintain a low-salt diet.
Sometimes you don’t feel or notice the swelling in your legs because it can be hidden in other parts of the body, so gaining weight is a good way to assess fluid retention because weight gain occurs before you notice fluid in your body.
To summarize, congestive heart failure is a condition that is more common in people as they age. It is more likely in patients with high blood pressure and cardiac disease. It can be associated with sleep apnea. If you have any of these symptoms, visit your doctor.