Heart failure is a complex condition caused by various underlying diseases and conditions that ultimately impair the heart’s ability to pump enough blood to meet the body's needs. The condition is commonly seen in older adults but can affect people of all ages.
Assessment: An accurate diagnosis of heart failure starts with a thorough medical history and physical exam. During the exam, a healthcare provider will likely listen to the heart and lungs with a stethoscope to check for any unusual sounds and measure the heart rate and blood pressure. Other tests, such as an electrocardiogram (ECG), an echocardiogram, a chest X-ray, and blood tests, may be used to assess heart function and diagnose the underlying cause of heart failure.
Symptoms: The most common symptoms of heart failure include shortness of breath, fatigue, weakness, and swelling in the legs, ankles, and feet. Other symptoms may include rapid or irregular heartbeat, chest pain, decreased appetite, and confusion.
Treatment: The primary goal of heart failure treatment is to reduce the strain on the heart. Treatment may include lifestyle changes such as limiting salt and alcohol intake, avoiding strenuous activity, and medications such as diuretics and ACE inhibitors. In some cases, surgery may be necessary to repair or replace a damaged heart valve or to implant a device such as a pacemaker to regulate the heartbeat.
If you are a healthcare professional, it is essential to keep your skills and knowledge up-to-date through continuing education and certification courses. This includes regular BLS recertification American Heart Association guidelines compliant, which ensures that you are prepared to respond to cardiac emergencies and provide high-quality care to patients experiencing heart failure.
American Heart Association. (2020). Heart Failure. Retrieved from https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/heart-failure
Mayo Clinic. (2020). Heart Failure: Symptoms and Causes. Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/heart-failure/symptoms-causes/syc-20373142 -
MedlinePlus. (2020). Heart Failure. Retrieved from https://medlineplus.gov/heartfailure.html