Heart Failure

Heart Failure develops when the heart cannot pump sufficient blood to provide the body with oxygen and nutrients. Heart Failure is closely associated with many types of heart disease.

Heart Failure may be left sided, right sided or Congestive Heart Failure (affecting both sides of the heart). Left sided Heart Failure interferes with blood delivery to the body, causing blood to "back up" in the lungs. Right-sided Heart Failure leads to difficulties moving blood through the lungs, causing the blood to back up in the body tissues. Congestive Heart Failure has features of both right and left Heart Failure.

Heart Failure can be classified as acute or chronic. Acute Heart Failure occurs when a sudden decrease in blood output causes acute oxygen deficiency (hypoxia) in the tissues. This may lead to cardiogenic shock. Causes of acute Heart Failure include heart attack, embolism (blood clot), severe arrhythmia or severe hypertension.

Chronic Heart Failure occurs when there is a gradual decrease in blood output. There may be no symptoms, as the heart will initially enlarge to compensate. Causes include chronic high blood pressure, lung disease, previous acute heart failure and ageing.

SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS
Left Heart Failure. The pressure of blood in the lungs leads to:
• Shortness of breath (particularly at night and on exertion).
• Fatigue and anxiety.
• Rapid pulse.
• Moist cough with large amounts of pink, blood tinged sputum.

Right Heart Failure. The pressure of blood within the body tissues leads to:
• Swelling in the legs and ankles.
• Enlarged spleen and liver.
• Bulging neck veins.
• Loss of appetite, weakness and nausea.
• Frequent night-time urination.

Congestive Heart Failure features symptoms of both sides.

TREATMENT OPTIONS
In no way is this information intended to replace the advice of a medical practitioner. Always see your Doctor for diagnosis and advice.
• Heart Failure is a serious medical condition and requires ongoing monitoring and management by a medical practitioner.
• Treatment is aimed at reducing the workload of the heart and preventing excess fluid build-up in the lungs and body.
• Your Doctor may prescribe diuretic drugs that help reduce the amount of fluid in the body, and/or heart drugs that reduce the heart's workload and improve its strength.

DIET HINTS
Always follow the advice of your medical practitioner.
• People with Heart Failure may be placed on a fluid restriction. Your Doctor will calculate how much fluid you may drink each day. Apart from drinks, fluids include anything that is liquid at room temperature, such as soup, custard, ice cream, yoghurt and jelly.

VITAMINS/MINERALS/HERBS
Nutritional supplements are only to be used if the dietary vitamin intake is inadequate.
• Some studies have shown Coenzyme Q10 to be effective in improving heart function and reducing high blood pressure.
• Fish oil, which contains omega-3 fatty acids, has been shown to reduce blood pressure.
• Garlic is thought to reduce cholesterol levels and lower blood pressure. Patients taking anticoagulants (blood thinning drugs) should NOT take garlic supplements.

PHARMACIST'S ADVICE
Ask your MedAux Pharmacist for advice.
1. Follow the diet hints.
2. If you have any queries about your medication please ask your Pharmacist.
3. Reduce or eliminate cardiac risk factors. These include obesity, smoking, hypertension, high cholesterol, sedentary lifestyle and diabetes mellitus.
4. Stress is thought to play a role in many cases of heart failure. Ask your Pharmacist about stress management and relaxation techniques.
5. Heavy alcohol use is associated with Heart Failure. Ask your Pharmacist for advice if you are a heavy drinker.
6. Caffeine intake (tea, coffee, cola and energy drinks) should be reduced, as it raises blood pressure and makes the blood vessels less flexible.