Along with several issues the heart
can manifest, coronary heart disease is the major cause of heart failure in
developing countries. Heart failure, then, is a condition in which the
myocardium becomes weakened and damaged to the extent that prevents the heart
from pumping and efficient amount of blood that the body demands.
Heart failure can be caused in
either the right or the left side of the heart. The left side of the heart
brings oxygen-rich blood from the lungs through the left ventricle, then into
the entire body which can cause fluid to build up in the lungs (SITE). Being that
the fluid begins to build up in the lungs, it can cause an individual shortness
of breath and pulmonary edema. Right-sided failure results in dysfunction of
the right ventricle due to sustained increased work with pumping blood (SITE). Issues with this
may result in valvular dysfunction which is when any of the four valves fails
to function properly. This can reduce the blood flow, let blood back up or even
leak into areas where it shouldn’t which can overtax the heart muscle.
Heart failure has several
manifestations that can lead to deterioration of other organs. Dyspnea is the
difficulty of breathing and is caused by left-sided heart failure. Orthopnea,
then, is experiencing difficulty breathing while laying down when Paroxysmal
nocturnal dyspnea is short periods of severe shortness of breath. When the
right ventricle is unable to pump blood effectively into the lungs and fluid
backs up in the peripheral circulation this can be known as Peripheral edema.
Ascites is fluid in the abdomen which can also decrease the function of other
organs in the body. Ascites can be reoccurring which then requires a procedure
called paracentesis that removes the fluid. The lungs are especially essential
when it comes to heart failure. There will be an inaccurate supply of oxygen to
the rest of the body if there is a decrease in pumping action of the heart and
congestion in the lungs
The management of heart failure
depends solely on the type, cause, and severity of the condition. As with every
heart condition, exercise, quitting smoking, and a healthy diet are recommended
to ensure the longevity of live. Weight loss and stress reduction will follow
once these crucial steps are implemented into an individuals’ lifestyle. Cases
that are much more severe may require medication and/or surgery. Medications
include but are not limited to diuretics, beta blockers, ACE inhibitors, and
antihypertensive drugs. Diuretics increase urine production to get rid of
excess salt and water. Beta blockers slow the heart rate and decreases blood
pressure. ACE inhibitors relaxes blood vessels, lowers blood pressure and
diabetes-related kidney damage and finally Antihypertensive drugs lowers the
blood pressure (SITE).
When medications aren’t effective, surgery is appropriate. Cardiac
Resynchronization Therapy (CRT) is a procedure in which a small device that
sends out electrical impulses to both ventricles to help them beat a synchrony
is implanted; this procedure appears to be most beneficial. An implantable
cardioverter-defibrillator is a device that is implanted inside the body, able
to perform cardioversion, defibrillation, and pacing of the heart. In the most
severe of cases, a heart transplant recommended.
Heart conditions and its’
manifestations will create a hardship on an individual’s life regardless of
severity. Functional implications of heart failure surround each and every
aspect of a “normal” life that include personal and psychosocial issues,
activities and participation, sexuality, as well as vocational issues. Personal
and psychosocial issues effect one’s life such as creating depression and
anxiety. When a person is diagnosed with heart failure, learning to take
several medications and making accommodations such as diet and exercise may
drive them to depression. One may feel as though their life is already over and
don’t feel the need to take any medicine if they’re going to be sick anyway.
Heart failure also limits the individual’s ability or willingness to
participate in daily activities and the feeling of dependency may lower their
Education regarding the condition and how to improve
the function and quality of life are important not only for the individual, but
also for the family. Family members may also experience stress, depression, and
anxiety. Having to deal with caring for the family member who suffers from
heart failure will encounter a high amount of emotional stress. Caring for
their loved one will take a toll on their lives as well because they may need
to make accommodations to fit that of their family members’.
The person with a condition doesn’t necessarily have
to be completely restricted from being sexually active. It is essential,
however, to remain open for discussions with partners about energy conservation
during sexual activity as well as with health professionals regarding potential
side effects of medications (SITE).
As long as the manifestations are being handeled appropriately and measures
necessary are taken, there should not be an issue with the person’s sexual
When thinking of a serious condition such as heart
failure, questions with vocational issues may arise. One is able to continue to
function in the work environment to a certain extent depending on the severity
of manifestations the individual is experiencing as well as consideration of
the nature of work (SITE).
Extreme temperatures can put additional strain on the heart, so
temperature-controlled environments are better tolerated with someone with
heart failure. It would be best recommended, too, that the workplace be of a
less stressful environment alleviating potential stress and anxiety that will
cause more damage. Accommodations may need to be put into place for someone who
suffers from a heart failure condition and is already employed.
To function effectively, the heart is to contract
with a regular rhythm and rate, both of which hare coordinated by an intricate
electrical network within the heart (SITE). Cardiac arrhythmias occur when there are no electrical
impulses in the heart. A common arrhythmia, atrial fibrillation, is believed to
actually increase the individual’s risk of a stroke. Consequently, such
interventions like anticoagulants which prevent clots from forming in the atria
and traveling to the brain are now instituted to prevent complications like a
A few manifestations that come with cardiac
arrhythmias consist of palpitations (heart beating too fast or too hard), exertional
dyspnea (shortness of breath with activity), fatigue, vertigo, syncope (sudden loss of
consciousness), and cardiac arrest. Cardiac arrest is the sudden loss of
consciousness due to the absence of blood flow as a result of diminished
cardiac pumpting action and without immediate intervention, the central nervous
system can be damaged or even death can occur (SITE).
Managing cardiac arrhythmias also depends on a
case-by-case basis and the individual’s severity. Some medications resemble
those that are needed for heart failure conditions. Antiarrhythmeics which
regulate the heartbeat, antihypertensives, and anticoagulants are a few
mentioned medications. A pacemaker may be implanted to manage cardiac
arrhythmia. A pacemaker is a battery-operated pulse generator where one of the
lead wires is inserted into a vessel and advanced into the heart; the other end
is connected to the generator. A person may need Cardiac Resychronization
Therapy (CRT) or a Cardioverter-defilbrillatro (ICD). An ICD is a device that
delivers an electric shock automatically to the heart for those with a
recurrent arrhythmia that could be life-threatening.
An individual would have to learn to adapt to a new
lifestyle that may affect several aspects of their everyday functions. There is
the fear that the individual may face when dealing with cardiac arrhythmia that
may lead to fatality. This in turn doesn’t allow the individual to continue
many activities related to both work and leisure in an effort to prevent an
occurrence. Unfortunately, the fear and anxiety created may in fact be more
damaging than the arrhythmia itself. For instance, those wearing an implantable
pacemaker should acknowledge the idea of always carrying identification in case
of a health emergency. Whether it’s in the workplace or simply being in public,
individuals should be aware of possible interferences from electrical signals
such as a microwave or metal detectors. These signals in the environment may
cause the pacemaker to start beeping which may draw unwanted attention leading
to possible embarrassment. It is crucial
for a person to attempt to avoid stress in the workplace as well as learning
mechanisms to deal with stress because cardiac arrhythmias may cause anxiety
and depression as well. It is also important for the person to know each and
every side effect of their medications such as anticoagulants; they need to be
aware of the potential excessive bleeding shall injury occur (SITE).
The heart is the main organ in one’s body and when
one thing goes wrong, there are endless conditions that may last a lifetime.
The heart’s valves can become damaged leading to several valvular conditions.
Aortic stenosis occurs in the aortic valve where it restricts blood flow from
the left ventricle to the aorta and may also affect the pressure in the left
atrium. One may experience mild to very severe symptoms. However, an individual
would need to consult their doctor and monitor irregularities.
Mitral stenosis may be the result of rheumatic fever or
simply being born with this condition. The narrowing of the mitral valve blocks
blood flow from the left atrium to the left ventricle. Proper management would
provide the individual a percutaneous balloon mitral valvuloplasty. This
procedure allows the cardiologist to insert a catheter with a balloon in an
artery in either the arm or the groin and guides it to the narrowed valve. Once
the catheter is in place, the balloon is inflated to widen the valve, improving
blood flow. The balloon is deflated, and the catheter with balloon is removed (SITE).
Mitral regurgitation is when there is leakage of
blood backwards through the mitral valve every time the left ventricle
contracts. This leakage allows the blood to flow in two different directions –
from the ventricle through the aortic valve – as it should- and then some blood
into the atrium (SITE).
The reason the leakage becomes an issue is it can increase the blood volume and
pressure in the veins leading from the lungs to the heart (pulmonary veins). If
regurgitation is severe, increased pressure may result in congestion (or fluid
build-up) in the lungs.
Mitral valve prolapse, or “click murmur syndrome” and
“Barlow’s syndrome” is the most common heart valve abnormality. This condition
appears to be more prevalent in women than in men. Mitral valve prolapse is the
improper closure of the valve between the heart’s upper and lower chambers (SITE) that can develop
at any age. This condition has a possibility of being passed down to
generations and may be linked to other conditions as well. Symptoms include an
irregular heartbeat, palpitations, and shortness of breath which usually
doesn’t result in treatment only medication.