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Congestive Heart Failure

Nearly five million Americans are living with congestive heart failure (CHF). Heart failure refers to the heart failing to adequately perform its job of pumping blood to meet the body’s needs. Left ventricular reconstruction (LVR) can help treat CHF, reduce the risk of sudden death and improve your quality of life.

The SSM Health Heart & Vascular Care features dedicated physicians, advanced treatments, leading-edge techniques and unparalleled experience. We’re recognized as the area’s model heart care service and the preferred destination for heart patients and the physicians who refer them.

Causes of Congestive Heart Failure

Your heart has four chambers. The lower half of your heart has two ventricles and the upper half of your heart has two atria. Ventricles pump blood to your body’s organs and tissues, and the atria receive blood from your body as it circulates back.

CHF develops when your ventricles can’t sufficiently pump blood to the body. Over time, blood and other fluids can back up inside other organs, including your lungs, liver, lower body or abdomen. This faulty pumping also means your body isn’t receiving enough of the oxygen it requires. Many people with severe heart disease develop heart failure over time. When and how it develops depends on the type of underlying heart disease.

Signs & Symptoms of Congestive Heart Failure

In the early stages of heart failure, you may have no symptoms. When symptoms do develop, they could include:

  • A dry, hacking cough, especially when lying down
  • Confusion, sleepiness and disorientation may occur in older people
  • Dizziness, fainting, fatigue or weakness
  • Fluid buildup, especially in the legs, ankles and feet
  • Increased urination at night
  • Nausea, abdominal swelling, tenderness or pain (may result from the buildup of fluid in the body and the backup of blood in the liver)
  • Weight gain (due to fluid buildup)
  • Weight loss as nausea causes a loss of appetite and as the body fails to absorb food well
  • Rapid breathing, bluish skin and feelings of restlessness, anxiety and suffocation
  • Shortness of breath and lung congestion as the blood backs up in to the lungs
  • Tiring easily
  • Wheezing and spasms of the airways similar to asthma

Treating Congestive Heart Failure

Treating any heart conditions you have, as early as possible, can help prevent heart failure. An SSM Health heart and vascular specialist can help you develop a treatment plan based on the cause of your heart failure, how severe the symptoms are and how well your body is able to make up for the heart not being able to pump enough blood.

In addition to cutting-edge technology at SSM Health, some treatment options could include:

  • Drugs
  • Biventricular pacing
  • Surgery to open blocked blood vessels in the heart can restore normal blood flow
  • Surgery to correct certain types of heart valve disease may also improve symptoms of heart failure
  • Ventricular assist devices
  • Heart transplant
  • Lifestyle changes, such as diet and exercise

Congestive heart failure may seem scary, but our renowned physicians have the technology and experience to develop a personalized care plan best suited to your needs. We’re here to provide helpful steps you can take to improve your heart health. Contact your nearest SSM Health Heart & Vascular Care center to find a physician or set up an appointment – we’ll be here with you every step of the way.

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