Last Updated on August 23, 2023
What is Heart Failure?
In simpler terms, heart failure is the inability of the heart to pump sufficient oxygenated blood throughout the body. This results when the heart muscles become too stiff or weak, affecting the contractility of the heart. Systolic heart failure is also known as heart failure with reduced ejection fraction. Studies suggest a 5-year survival rate for those who experience systolic heart failure. (1) While there is no cure for heart failure, certain medications such as diuretics and lifestyle modifications can alter the outlook of the disease, together with improving the overall mortality rate. Prime Revival Research Institute, a clinical research organization based in Texas conducts cardiology clinical trials enrolling adults with heart failure symptoms. Participate today!
Continue reading the blog to learn more about the symptoms and potential management strategies for heart failure.
What are the Signs of Systolic Heart Failure?
Heart failure is of distinct types, with defects in either; the left or right ventricle. Systolic heart failure is a specific type of heart failure with complications in the left ventricle of the heart, producing symptoms such as:
• Chest pain (2)
• Confusion or forgetfulness
• Fatigue or weakness
• Frequent coughing or wheezing, sometimes with a pink-colored mucus
• Irregular or fast heartbeat
• Lack of appetite or nausea
• Increased urination at night
• Sudden, unexpected weight gain
• Fluid retention in the belly, legs, ankles, and feet
A significant hallmark of systolic heart failure is dyspnea at rest or while walking. Individuals with early stages of systolic heart failure do not usually experience any symptoms except when exercising. An insight into what happens inside the heart is necessary. Keeping an eye out for minor or major changes demonstrating medical conditions is essential to avoid life-threatening complications.
Also Read: Systolic vs Diastolic Heart Failure
Why Does it Happen?
Chronic systolic heart failure results from heart conditions that weaken the heart muscles. The conditions are as follows:
• Aortic stenosis
• Arrhythmia, an irregular heart rhythm
• Coronary artery disease
• Heart attack, due to lack of sufficient blood supply to the heart
• High blood pressure (hypertension)
• Mitral regurgitation is a condition in which the valve in the heart does not close tightly, allowing blood to flow backward in the heart
• Myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle)
Reduced blood flow, complete cut off of blood supply, hypertrophy of the heart muscles, permanent scarring or damage to the heart results from such conditions, increasing the risk of heart failure. Some individuals may have a genetic predisposition to developing heart failure due to inherited abnormalities in the structure or function of the heart. Others with uncontrolled diabetes can also contribute to the development of heart failure through various mechanisms, including damage to blood vessels and nerves that supply the heart. Besides medical conditions, substance abuse, chronic alcohol consumption, or drug abuse can also damage the heart muscles, leading to heart failure.
Classification of Heart Failure
There are two main ways of classifying heart failure, acute vs. chronic systolic heart failure and New York Heart Association (NYHA) Functional Classification.
Acute vs. Chronic Systolic Heart Failure
By definition, Acute Systolic Heart Failure refers to a sudden and severe worsening of heart function, particularly the heart’s ability to contract and pump blood effectively. In other words, acute heart failure is a medical emergency that requires prompt treatment. The prognosis depends on the severity of the condition and how promptly it is treated.
On the other hand, Chronic Systolic Heart Failure is a relatively stable condition. By definition, chronic heart failure develops gradually and is a long-term condition in which the heart’s ability to contract and pump blood is affected. The prognosis varies depending on the patient’s overall health, adherence to treatment, and the presence of any underlying conditions.
New York Heart Association (NYHA) Functional Classification
|I||No changes to a person’s physical activity. No signs of tiredness, palpitations, or shortness of breath.|
|II||Limitations in physical activity but comfortable at rest. Physical activity leads to tiredness, palpitations, and shortness of breath.|
|III||A substantial limitation of physical activity but comfortable at rest. Presence of symptoms such as fatigue, palpitations, or shortness of breath on performing daily tasks.|
|IV||Inability to carry out any activity without discomfort. Heart failure symptoms when at rest. Increase in discomfort with physical activity.|
Commonly Used Diagnostic Techniques for Identification
To rule out heart failure, the choice of imaging or diagnostic modality varies depending on various factors, including the patient’s clinical presentation, availability of equipment, and the specific information required for diagnosis and treatment planning. The most commonly employed diagnostic techniques are:
1. Blood tests
2. Chest X-ray
3. Electrocardiogram (EKG)
4. Echocardiogram (ECG)
5. Heart catheterization
6. Exercise test
In a few instances, a combination of different diagnostic imaging is performed by medical professionals to obtain a comprehensive view of the heart’s structure and function.
Viable Treatment Options
The treatment for systolic heart failure entails routine checkups, medications, lifestyle modifications, healthy eating habits, etc. In severe cases, the implantation of devices like pacemakers or defibrillators may be essential. (3)
Pharmacological drugs commonly used to manage heart failure symptoms are:
Lifestyle modifications include:
1. Following a healthy diet
2. Incorporating physical activity or exercise regularly
3. Shedding unhealthy weight and working toward a healthy weight goal
4. Quitting smoking
About Heart Failure Study
Notably, conventional heart failure medications are available in the market, but many cardiologists identify the need for potential novel therapies. To contribute to this cause, Prime Revival Research Institute is conducting heart failure clinical trials, evaluating the safety and efficacy of a novel therapy that might improve the prognosis for patients with heart failure (HFrEF).
You may be able to participate if you:
• Are a male or female between 30-85 years
• Have been diagnosed with heart failure (HF) with reduced left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF)
• Are on a stable dose of renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system (RAAS) or β-blockers for >4 weeks
It’s important to note that systolic heart failure results from a combination of cardiac and non-cardiac factors. Both acute and chronic systolic heart failure is a life-threatening state. The symptoms of breathlessness, coughing, etc., should be addressed soon to avoid progressive worsening of the condition. Moreover, early detection, lifestyle modifications, and appropriate medical interventions are vital to mitigate the progression of heart failure symptoms.