The earliest symptoms of heart failure are quite subtle, but it’s risky to ignore them.
It’s a sad truth that your body slows down after you enter your 60’s. Ascending a flight of stairs that you formerly took two at a time can now feel as discouraging as climbing Mount Everest. While some degree of vitality loss can be attributed to natural aging, fatigue and breathlessness may also be signals that your heart is not functioning as well as it should. “There is a general tendency for people to ignore heart failure symptoms and blame them to just getting older. So, it was very vital for us to create an easy way to recognize those symptoms,” says Dr. Bhasker Semitha, one of the top Valve Repair Surgeon in Mumbai.
FACES of Heart Failure
As per cardiac surgeons, Heart Failure happens when something damages the heart muscle or decreases the heart’s ability to pump successfully. A number of times, the damage shoots from coronary artery disease or heart attack. But malfunctioning heart valves, long-lasting high blood pressure, or hereditary disease might also be the reason. No matter what is the source, the failing heart is unable to pump well enough to continue with the body’s demand for oxygen-rich blood.
To help both cardiologists and patients quickly identify a probable combination of heart failure indications, the Heart Failure Society of America (HFSA) developed a convenient tool that goes by the acronym “FACES”.
F = Fatigue. When the heart is unable to pump satisfactory oxygen-rich blood to meet the body’s energy requirements, there is a common feeling of tiredness or intense fatigue that sets in.
A = Activity Limitation. Patients with severe heart failure cannot conduct their usual activities since they become easily exhausted and shortness of breath.
C = Congestion. Fluid accumulation in the lungs can lead to coughing, wheezing, and breathing trouble.
E = Edema (Swelling Of Ankle). When the heart has low pumping power to push used blood back up and about from the lower extremities, fluid can accumulate in the abdomen, ankles, thighs and legs. Excess fluid can also lead to fast weight gain.
S = Shortness of breath. Fluid in the lungs makes it more problematic for carbon dioxide in used blood to be swapped for fresh oxygen. It might also be difficult to breathe when resting since gravity permits fluid from below the lungs to flow up the torso.
As per top cardiac surgeons, these 5 cautionary signs do not sanction a diagnosis of heart failure, but they do deliver a sense of urgency to seek out medical advice.
In addition to the physical test, doctors have two other significant tools to check the presence of heart failure. The first is an echocardiogram (popularly called an echo), that is a simple, non-invasive test that utilizes ultrasound to produce images of your heart while it beats. If the echo displays a lower-than-normal percentage of blood leaving the heart when the left ventricle contracts, there is a good possibility of heart muscle damage. Other findings that indicate heart failure comprises of abnormal thickening and ballooning of the heart wall and faulty heart valves.
The resulting step in finding early-onset heart failure is to hunt for bio-markers in the blood, such as B-type natriuretic peptide, that is released while the heart is under great stress. “I have named these compounds ‘tears from the heart’ since they show that the heart is crying for help,” says Dr. Semitha, one of the best vascular surgeons in Mumbai. Once the initial diagnosis is completed, further testing might be required to understand what’s causing the heart’s dysfunction and fix the best treatment approach.
Drugs to avoid when you suffer from heart failure:
Patients with heart failure often take several medications. Though, several regularly used treatment drugs, over-the-counter medicines, and supplements can interact hazardously to increase heart failure symptoms. Thus, ensure all of your heart specialists have a complete list of all the medicines you take. Specific compounds to look out for comprise of these:
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). This class of widely used painkillers, which includes ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), can deteriorate heart failure indications by instigating the body to hold sodium and fluid.
Heartburn medicines and cold remedies. These over-the-counter helps often comprise of high amounts of sodium, which can activate fluid over-load.
Herbal remedies. Many so-called usual supplements comprise of constituents such as ephedra, St. John’s wort, ginseng, hawthorn, black cohosh, and green tea. All can respond badly with numerous common heart medications.