Congestive Heart Failure-Tests and Treatment

The following tests and treatments for congestive heart failure are prevalent:

Tests
A physical examination may reveal Fluid around the lungs (pleural effusion), Irregular heartbeat, Leg swelling (edema), Neck veins that stick out (are distended) and Swelling of the liver
The following tests may reveal heart swelling,decreased heart function, or lung congestion:

  1. Chest x-ray
  2. ECG
  3. Echocardiogram
  4. Cardiac stress tests
  5. Heart CT scan
  6. Heart catheterization
  7. MRI of the heart
  8. Nuclear heart scans

This disease may also alter the following test results:

  1. Blood chemistry
  2. BUN
  3. Complete blood count
  4. Creatinine
  5. Creatinine clearance
  6. Liver function tests
  7. Uric acid -blood test
  8. Sodium – blood test
  9. Urinalysis
  10. Sodium – urine test


Treatment

If you have heart failure, you will have to undergo tests to check your heart function. An ultrasound of your heart (echocardiogram) will be done once in awhile to see how well your heart pumps blood with each beat.

Other important measures include:

  1. Take your medications as directed. Carry a list of medications with you wherever you go.
  2. Limit salt intake.
  3. Don’t smoke.
  4. Stay active. For example, walk or ride a stationary bicycle. Your doctor can provide a safe and effective exercise plan based on your degree of heart failure and how well you do on tests that check the strength and function of your heart. DO NOT exercise on days that your weight has gone up from fluid retention or you are not feeling well.
  5. Lose weight if you are overweight.
  6. Get enough rest, including after exercise, eating, or other activities. This allows your heart to rest as well. Keep your feet elevated to decrease swelling.

Your doctor may consider prescribing the following medications:

  1. ACE inhibitors such as captopril, enalapril, lisinopril, and ramipril to open up blood vessels and decrease the work load of the heart
  2. Diuretics including hydrochlorothiazide, chlorthalidone, chlorothiazide,furosemide, torsemide, bumetanide, and spironolactone to help rid your body of fluid and salt (sodium)
  3. Digitalis glycosides to increase the ability of the heart muscle to contract properly and help treat some heart rhythm disturbances
  4. Angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs) such as losartan and candesartanto reduce the workload of the heart; this class of drug is especially important for those who cannot tolerate ACE inhibitors
  5. Beta-blockers such as such as carvedilol and metoprolol, which are particularly useful for those with a history of coronary artery disease

Valve replacements or repair coronary bypass surgery (CABG), and angioplasty may help some people with heart failure.
The following devices may be recommended for certain patients:

  1. A single or dual chamber pacemaker to help with slow heart rates or certain other heart signaling problems
  2. A biventricular pacemaker to help the left and right side of your heart contract at the same time.
  3. An implantable cardioverter-defibrillator to correct or prevent severe arrhythmias (abnormal heart rhythms)

Severe heart failure may require the following treatments:

  • Intra-aortic balloon pump (IABP), a temporary device placed into the aorta
  • Left ventricular assist device (LVAD), which takes over the role of the heart by pumping blood from the heart into the aorta; it’s most often used by those who are waiting for a heart transplant.

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