Heart failure happens when the heart loses its ability to pump enough blood, leaving the organs and tissues with insufficient oxygen and nutrients to function properly. This could be due to a weak or stiff heart. In congestive heart failure, there is a build-up of fluid in the tissues (an oedema).
The most common causes of heart failure are:
Heart failure can be precipitated by several events. The common precipitating factors are:
The diagnosis of heart failure is based on:
Heart failure is usually treated with lifestyle changes and medicines.
Dietary changes to maintain proper weight and reduction of salt intake may be needed. Reducing salt intake helps to lessen swelling in the legs, feet and abdomen. Other lifestyle changes that may reduce the symptoms of heart failure include stopping smoking or other tobacco use, eliminating or reducing alcohol consumption and not using harmful drugs.
Appropriate exercise such as walking, cycling, swimming, or low-impact aerobic exercises may be recommended, but it is important that heart failure patients only begin an exercise programme with the advice of their doctors. The National Heart Centre Singapore offers good Cardiovascular Rehabilitation and Preventive Cardiology Programme for patients identified to have multiple risk factors for heart disease or who have just undergone open-heart surgery.
Surgery may be needed to correct abnormalities of the heart or heart valves that cause heart failure. Congenital heart defects and abnormal heart valves can be repaired with surgery. Blocked coronary arteries can usually be treated with angioplasty or coronary artery bypass surgery.
Severe or end-stage heart failure may result in heart muscles so damaged that available treatments will not help. When all other treatments do not work, patients are usually considered for mechanical assist devices and heart transplantation.
The clinic adopts a team approach to treat heart failure through a structured outpatient programme to prolong survival, improve quality of life and reduce hospital admissions. A specialist nurse clinician is on hand to provide phone consultations to patients.Learn more on our Heart Failure Programme here.
Living with Heart Failure
心脏衰竭患者 / Living with Heart Failure (Chinese version)
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