In the complex narrative of heart failure, the left side plays a central role. In this blog, we delve into the intricacies of left heart failure, exploring its causes, symptoms, and the vital strategies that healthcare professionals employ to manage and improve the lives of those affected by this condition.
Understanding Left Heart Failure
Left ventricular failure is defined as failure to maintain an effective left ventricular output for a given pulmonary venous or left atrial pressure or can do so only at the expense of an elevated left atrial pressure. Left side of the heart plays a vital role in receiving oxygenated blood from lungs and delivering it to the rest of the body by which oxygen helps organs, muscles and other tissues do their job.
Left ventricular output depends on preload, afterload, and myocardial contractility. Left heart failure occurs due to interactions of these three variables.. Basically there are two types of left heart failure :
- Systolic Heart Failure – The left ventricle loses its ability to contract normally. It’s also known as heart failure with reduced ejection fraction.
- Diastolic Heart Failure – The left ventricle loses its ability to relax normally because the muscle has become stiff. This condition is also known as heart failure with preserved ejection fraction.
Common Culprits Of Left Heart Failure
Left ventricular is either produced due to :
- Left ventricular outflow or inflow obstruction
- Ventricular volume overload
- Decreased ventricular contractility
Other common causes include :
- Coronary artery disease
- Mitral stenosis
- Valvular heart disease
- Abnormal heart rhythms
- Infiltrative diseases
Other risk factors for left-sided heart failure include :
- Older age
Symptoms may be mild at first, they might not even notice. But as heart function worsens, symptoms may include :
- Shortness of breath
- Chronic coughing
- Swelling in the legs and feet
- Lack of appetite
- Irregular heartbeat
- Chest pain
- Difficulty concentrating
- High blood pressure
- Enlarged heart
Diagnosis and Assessment
Doctors diagnose by obtaining a thorough history and performing various imaging tests.
- Electrocardiogram ( ECG ) – Helps to record the heart’s electrical activity.
- Echocardiogram ( ECHO ) – to show heart movement and blood flow.
- Cardiac MRI – to get a high-definition view of the heart.
- BNP Blood tests – to check for hormones that occur with pressure changes inside the heart.
- Biochemical tests – Blood urea, electrolytes must be monitored. Full blood count, liver biochemistry, cardiac enzymes and thyroid function test must be performed.
- Coronary angiogram –This test helps spot blockages in the heart arteries.
- Myocardial biopsy – This test may be done to diagnose certain types of heart muscle diseases that cause heart failure.
Treatment And Management
Acute left ventricular failure is a life threatening emergency. The first aim of treatment is to find out and remove any precipitating cause of decompensation syh as an arrhythmia. However, because of the acute nature of the problem, a number of additional nonspecific measures are necessary which may be or may not be desirable in chronic form of left heart failure.
Lifestyle changes such as decreasing sodium intake, modification in daily diet, and reducing stress are often recommended. It is important for people with left heart failure to avoid smoking, alcohol and recreational drugs. Other treatment options include :
- Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors can be given to relax blood vessels to lower blood pressure, improve blood flow and decrease the strain on the heart.
- Beta blockers – These medicines help to slow the heart rate and lower blood pressure.
- Angiotensin receptor plus neprilysin inhibitors (ARNIs). This medicine uses two blood pressure drugs to treat heart failure.
- More medicines to help your heart pump better.
- Coronary bypass surgery
- Heart valve replacement
- Implantable cardioverter-defibrillator
- Cardiac resynchronization therapy
- Heart transplant
Life After Left Heart Failure: Patient Perspectives
- Making a routine of checking blood pressure daily.
- Becoming more physical active,
- Lowering salt intake.
- Regular full body monitoring after 3 months.
- Continuing heart failure medications.
- Weigh daily to check for sudden weight gain.
Conclusion : Empowering Heart
As we conclude our exploration of left heart failure, the importance of understanding, early detection, and comprehensive care becomes evident. With the right knowledge and support, individuals affected by left heart failure can lead fulfilling lives and maintain their heart health.