Healthy Heart

What are the Stages of Congestive Heart Failure?

What are the Stages of Congestive Heart Failure?

Once a heart failure is diagnosed, it is evaluated. To commence the proper evaluation of heart failure, it is essential to share a complete and accurate history of what you are experiencing and what you have experienced so far with your doctor. Providing a complete and accurate history of your symptoms is essential to let the doctor diagnose the infection properly and more accurately.

Below are the four major stages of heart failure that are developed by The American Heart Association (AHA) and The American College of Cardiology (ACC). These stages are divided based on the progression of the disease thereby helping you to understand that heart failure is a progressive condition. If not treated early, it will only worsen over time.

Here are the 4 Stages of Heart Failure:

Stage A:

You fall into stage A if you have a higher risk of developing heart failure or have already witnessed a pre-heart failure. Generally people who have a family history of high blood pressure (hypertension), diabetes or heart problems are more prone to falling into this category. If you have a history of the aforementioned problems or if you have a diet that is high in fat, abuse alcohol/drugs or smoke, you may be at a higher risk of inculcating the following conditions:

    • Coronary artery disease (Most common type of heart disease which leads to heart attack)

    • High blood pressure (BP more than 140/90)

    • Diabetes (High blood sugar levels)

    • Metabolic syndrome (A condition of insulin resistance: your body is unable to utilize insulin. Insulin is a hormone which controls your blood sugar.)

    • History of alcohol abuse

    • History of drug abuse

    • History of rheumatic fever (Inflammatory fever which develops after an illness. Redness, pain, swelling and difficult movements are the signs of an inflammation)

    • Family history of cardiomyopathy (Weak heart muscle) or heart problems

    • History of cardiotoxic drug therapy (Medicines which harm the heart)

Stage B

There are some cases where heart failure candidates who have probably never experienced any symptoms of heart failures before, are still diagnosed with the disease. Although there may be clear evidences of heart failure being detected during the diagnosis, there may be no clear symptoms leading to the actual disease. At this point a physician may prescribe certain medications such as ACE Inhibitors or Beta Blockers. An individual may fall into stage B if he has developed a structural heart disease which is not showing any signs or symptoms. For example, individuals who’ve had or experienced the following:

    • Heart attack (Heart attack is a condition where there is a sudden occurrence of coronary thrombosis typically leading to death of a heart muscle.)

    • Low ejection fraction (Ejection fraction is the amount of blood your heart is able to pump in one go. Below 55% is low.)

    • Valve disease with no symptoms (Heart has valves in between its chambers. Diseases manifest if valves don’t function the way they should.)

Stage B patients of congestive heart failure usually have an enlarged left ventricle which is dysfunctional. This enlarged left ventricle is the main cause of some serious ailments that may have developed or have the chances of occurring in the later stages of life.

Stage C

One of the major symptoms of this stage is cardiac dysfunction which causes tiredness and fatigue while performing simple activities like walking or bending over. Shortness of breath and overall lethargicness of the body also prevail as a side effect. In stage C, strict attention should be paid to exercise and diet by consulting your physician. More importance must be paid to eating properly (with low sodium intake) and little or no intake of alcohol consumption. You fall into stage C if you have suffered from a heart failure along with its varied symptoms. Even if you had symptoms in the past, you belong to stage C. Following are the symptoms of heart failure.

    • Shortness of breath

    • Excessive tiredness

    • Inability to exercise like before

Stage D

Patients in stage D of congestive heart failure show signs and symptoms of heart failure even though they might not have undergone treatment and therapy to cure it. Monitoring of diet, exercise and blood pressure is still adhered during stage D. Patients at this stage are prescribed with medications and therapies depending on the personal health of that person and the extent of heart failure. You fall into stage D if you have a systolic heart failure and are still experiencing symptoms in spite of having treatment. It is the end stage of a heart failure. Here, you are having symptoms at rest though you have taken treatment.

The New York Heart Association’s (NYHA) classification of heart failure is slightly different compared to what was discussed above. NYHA ranks patients under class I, II, III and IV according to their degree of symptoms/ limitations. 

 Class I: 

    • There are no symptoms at rest.

    • No symptoms when you perform ordinary activities.

    • You are free to do any physical activity. No symptoms are exhibited for any amount of physical activity.

    • The individual is oblivious of any typical signs or symptoms related to heart failure.

 Class II: 

    • There are no symptoms at rest.

    • Symptoms appear when you perform ordinary activities.

    • There is a limitation on the amount of physical activity you do because you may experience symptoms of heart failure such as excessive tiredness and shortness of breath when being active.

    • The individual slowly starts developing and observing some changes in their performance and health.

 Class III: 

    • There is a distinctive limitation.

    • You may experience symptoms even when performing less-than-ordinary activities.

    • The individual may suffer from some serious pangs of pain and uneasiness.

 Class IV: 

    • There is a severe limitation.

    • You may experience symptoms of heart failure even at rest.

It is therefore advised to opt for regular health check-ups rather than waiting for signs and symptoms to bulge out and take the body under its control. See your doctor regularly. Early diagnosis will help you live a long and healthy life!