Acute decompensated congestive heart failure is a serious condition that generally causes acute respiratory distress. Scroll down to find out what causes heart failure to decompensate and how it can be treated.
The human heart is the most important component of the circulatory system of the body. The heart is divided into four chambers. The upper-right chamber, which is referred to as right atrium, receives deoxygenated blood from superior vena cava and inferior vena cava. This blood flows into right ventricle and is then carried by pulmonary artery into the lungs. The left atrium receives oxygenated blood from the pulmonary vein.
This oxygen-rich blood flows into the left ventricle. It flows into the aorta, and is then carried to the other parts of the body. When the heart is unable to pump sufficient amounts of blood to the various parts of the body, one is diagnosed with a heart condition called heart failure. Weakening of the heart muscle due to coronary artery disease, heart valve disorders or high blood pressure are some of the conditions that may lead to heart failure.
When fluid starts backing up in body’s tissues or organs as a result of heart failure, one is said to suffer from congestive heart failure. Acute decompensated congestive heart failure refers to the sudden deterioration of cardiac function or worsening of congestive heart failure. Given below is information on the possible causes of decompensated congestive heart failure along with its treatment options.
Acute Decompensated Congestive Heart Failure
Causes and Symptoms
Decompensated heart failure is an abnormal condition wherein the damaged heart is unable to maintain sufficient cardiac output with normal compensatory mechanisms. To understand what causes this condition, you must have some idea about the compensatory mechanisms that the body employs for pumping out a sufficient amount of blood required for the body. Release of hormones called epinephrine and norepinephrine is one such mechanism that affects the force of contraction of the heart and causes the heart to pump faster.
Increase in the blood volume due to salt and water retention by the kidneys is another mechanism by which the blood volume increases. This enlarges the ventricles, which in turn, increases the force of contraction. Ventricular hypertrophy, which signifies the enlargement or thickening of the walls of the ventricles, can also help in increasing the force of contraction of the heart muscle.
In case of a healthy individual, the aforementioned compensatory mechanisms, can help the heart pump harder as and when needed. However, these mechanisms may no longer be able to help a person suffering from chronic congestive heart failure. In fact, release of hormones, may put pressure on the damaged heart while water and salt retention may stretch and weaken the heart muscle. Thickening of the muscular walls of the ventricles may make them stiff and adversely affect the heart’s ability to contract forcefully.
As mentioned earlier, certain diseases can lead to the impairment of heart’s ability to pump blood. Initially, symptoms such as fatigue, shortness of breath, palpitations or rapid heartbeat may be experienced when one indulges in physical activity. As the disease progresses, one may experience shortness of breath even while resting.
Weight gain and fluid retention in the body tissues are also signs of congestive heart failure. These symptoms can be managed with the help of certain medications. The risk of congestive heart failure may also increase if these underlying conditions worsen. Complications could occur due to an acute myocardial infarction, arrhythmia or pneumonia. The risk may also increase due to non-compliance of guidelines related to diet or medication.
The symptoms of this type of congestive heart failure are associated with fluid overload and low cardiac output. Jugular venous distension, peripheral edema and shortness of breath on exertion are the other common symptoms that need to be treated. Acute decompensated heart failure treatment is aimed at treating the congestion. Since this condition may lead to respiratory distress, supplemental oxygen would be required to stabilize the condition of the patient. Vasodilators and diuretics are generally prescribed for the treatment of decompensated heart failure.
Nitroglycerine is a vasodilator that may be prescribed as a part of the treatment. Once the patient’s condition stabilizes, doctors may recommend the use of ACE inhibitors, beta blockers or angiotensin receptor blockers. These drugs can help in lowering the blood pressure and also help in improving one’s ability to carry out physical activities. If constricted arteries are the precipitating factor for heart failure, coronary bypass surgery needs to be performed. Heart valve repair, angioplasty or implantation of defibrillator or a pacemaker may be suggested.
A damaged heart is the direct result of poor lifestyle choices one makes. Heart failure can decompensate if the patient doesn’t follow the guidelines or suffers from a disease that adversely affects the heart’s pumping mechanism. The patient must, therefore, follow the guidelines regarding drug therapy and diet in order to prevent heart function from deteriorating any further.