Congestive Heart Failure the Respiratory Perspective Term Paper

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Congestive Heart Failure

It is a fact that Congestive Heart Failure is an extremely frightening word and an equally frightening concept to comprehend, and when a loved one, or oneself has been diagnosed with this condition, it is quite natural to relapse into a state of depression or panic. However, it is not an untreatable disease, and with the correct and appropriate treatment methods, and with the right physician attending, the patient would be able to live a very productive life in the future, and look forward to living a long life too. This paper deals with 'what is Congestive Heart Failure', and how often does it occur. Who are the people who would be the most prone to this condition, and what can be done to prevent it. What are the various preventive measures that can be taken by other individuals who have been identified to belong to a high-risk group?

How can this condition be diagnosed accurately, and who diagnoses it? Is Congestive Heart Failure related to the respiratory tract in any way, and if so, how? Who is a 'Respiratory Therapist', and how can he help the patient who has been diagnosed as suffering from congestive heart failure and other problems of the respiratory tract? What is a Ventilation Machine, and how is it used for the treatment of the patient? What are the different types of ventilating machines, and how can they be used? How does the Respiratory Therapist handle the ventilator? How can the patient who is suffering from congestive heart failure be oxygenated, and how is it done? What about excessive fluid retention, how does it affect such patients, and what are the drugs that can be given to them so that excessive fluid is removed? And finally what is the quality of life that the patient of congestive heart failure can hope to live?

Introduction:

When a loved one is diagnosed with the frightening words 'Heart Failure' or 'Heart Disease', it can be an extremely traumatic experience for the individual. Statistics reveal that more than 5 million Americans have been diagnosed with heart failure and have been living their lives with ease for a great many years after the initial diagnosis was made, and this only shows that one is not alone with this diagnosis, and about 550,000 new cases are being diagnosed each and every single year. The important thing to remember is that this is an entirely manageable disease, and with the correct and appropriate and right treatment, it is very much possible to enjoy the best that life has to offer for a good many years. (Heart Failure: www.americanheart.org)

Analysis:

What, exactly, is Congestive Heart Failure? This is a condition in which the heart is not able to pump blood to all the organs within the body. This may happen due to a variety of reasons: one reason may be that the individual is suffering from coronary artery disease, and this means that the arteries that supply blood to the heart may have become too narrow, and this would obstruct the passage, and therefore, blood would not be able to flow with ease. Another reason for the occurrence of Congestive Heart Failure may be that the patient had already suffered from a heart attack, and/or may be suffering from myocardial infarction, that may have resulted in the formation of scar tissue, which would in turn obstruct the free flow of blood to the heart, and put a lot of strain on the heart muscle which would find it difficult to cope with the lessened blood flow. High blood pressure may also result in the formation of Congestive Heart Failure, as would any sort of heart valve disease that the patient may have suffered from earlier in his life. Heart valve disease may be caused due to past rheumatic fevers, and other illnesses. (Congestive Heart Failure: www.americanheart.org)

On the other hand, the heart muscle may in itself be affected with disease, and this is when it is referred to as 'cardiomyopathy'. Certain types of congenital heart defects and diseases may also cause Congestive Heart Failure, and the patient would have had the heart defect at birth itself. Another important reason for the occurrence of Congestive Heart Failure would be that of infection of the heart valve itself, and also the muscles of the heart, referred to as 'endocarditis', or 'myocarditis'. What would happen when a patient is suffering from Congestive Heart Failure is that the heart would continue to work, but not at all as efficiently as it should or would. The individual would feel tired and exhausted even after a small amount of exertion, and also out of breath after minor strains. This is because of the phenomenon of congestion in the tissues, which is caused by the slowing down of the flow of blood from the heart, due to which the blood that is supposed to flow back into the heart slows down because of the back up caused by the obstruction in the passage way, and this means that there will be swelling or what is known as 'edema'. (Congestive Heart Failure: www.americanheart.org)

Most often the swelling or edema occurs in the limbs, or in other words, in the legs and ankles, though it does occur in other parts of the body, like for example, in the lungs, and these results in the obstruction of the breathing process. When a person's lungs are congested, that person would find it difficult to even breathe, and would experience a shortness of breath and most often, when he lies down, would not be able to breathe. Sometimes, the kidney and its normal functioning gets affected by the phenomenon of Congestive Heart Failure, and this in turn interferes with the kidneys' ability to dispose of the sodium and water from within the body, and this would also contribute to the increase in the edema in the body.

How can Congestive Heart Failure be diagnosed? The best person to diagnose the disease would be the attending Physician or Doctor. The most frequent and common symptom of the disease is swollen ankles and legs, or edema or water retention, along with a certain difficulty in breathing. Another common symptom is that of weight gain, which is actually caused by the water retention within the body. After the Congestive Heart Failure has been diagnosed, the course of treatment is a combination of rest and a change and modification in diet and a general change in the patient's daily activities, with a treatment program with the appropriate drugs and medicines. Some of the drugs that the patient is advised to take are the following: beta-blockers, ACE, or 'angiotensin-converting enzymes' inhibitors. In addition, digitalis, diuretics, and vasodilators are also prescribed, and each drug performs a different function. (Congestive Heart Failure: www.americanheart.org)

The ACE Inhibitors and vasodilators have the function of expanding the narrowed blood vessels, and also decrease the resistance. The result is that the blood will be able to flow more easily, and also with considerably lesser amount of strain, and the heart can work easier. The beta-blockers have the function of improving the working of the pumping of the heart's lower left chamber, or what is known as the left ventricle. The pumping action of the heart would be improved to a certain extent by the digitalis, and the diuretics would help the body rid itself of the excess accumulated fluids and salts and water. However, if the physician is able to discover the specific cause of the Congestive Heart Failure, then that particular defect can be specifically treated, like for example, if the cause for the disease has been discovered to be an abnormal heart valve, then that abnormal valve can be surgically replaced or repaired, and if the cause is found to be because of high blood pressure, then the treatment for the blood pressure would in itself be sufficient for the treatment of the Congestive Heart Failure.

In some cases where the heart is found to be so very extremely damaged that it cannot be treated with drugs, then a heart transplant or the replacement of the damaged heart with a better one would be the only viable option left for the patient. However, the important fact to be remembered is that most patients who have been diagnosed with mild or moderate Congestive Heart Failure would be generally able to lead normal fulfilling lives, provided they are properly supervised medically with the appropriate drugs and other treatment options. This would prevent them from becoming invalids and dependent on others for their basic survival, and this in itself would be a great relief for the patient. (Congestive Heart Failure: www.americanheart.org)

Can Congestive Heart Failure be prevented, and what are the ways and means in which it can be prevented? The fact is that the diagnosis and the treatment and the various other forms of health care costs that are generally associated with Congestive Heart Failure are so very expensive, and the morbidity and…[continue]

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