What Is Left-Sided Congestive Heart Failure?
Heart failure means your heart is not able to work as well as it once did.
Left-sided congestive failure is a critical condition in which the left side of the heart doesn’t pump blood efficiently. It is unable to meet the body’s metabolic needs, resulting in blood being pulled into the lungs. This causes tiredness and troubled breathing, among other complications.
The heart is the most important organ in the body and is responsible for supplying oxygen. Oxygen is carried via blood, and when your heart beats, oxygen-rich blood flows through the necessary channels. When it relaxes, deoxygenated blood enters the heart. Demand and supply mismatches lead to heart failure; the condition occurs when the heart is not able to pump the required amount of blood.
This lack of oxygen leads to fatigue/excessive tiredness. The same is seen in anemia. Anemia is a condition that causes lower levels of red blood cells in the body. Blood is composed of red blood cells (RBCs), which carry oxygen. Low RBC counts indicate low oxygen.
Heart failure's designation is based on its cause. The heart has four chambers:
- Upper left chamber (the left atrium)
- Lower left (the left ventricle)
- Upper right (the right atrium)
- Lower right (the right ventricle)
Heart failure attributed to the left side of the heart is called left-sided heart failure. Heart failure itself is known by several names like congestive heart failure, or CHF.
Left-sided heart failure can be caused by several factors, including:
- Insufficient contraction: The left ventricle pumps pure blood to the entire body, but sometimes it does not pump well. This could be attributed to insufficient contraction of the heart muscles. Thus, less blood reaches the tissues. Insufficient blood pumping from the heart can be responsible for heart failure. A heart attack is a condition where the blood flow to the heart muscles is blocked. This results in the death of the heart muscles and scarring in the heart. It also reduces muscle efficiency, leading to heart failure. The scar, however, can be surgically removed. A pacemaker can help regulate your heartbeat, and is installed under the skin.
- Improper valves: Another reason for left-sided heart failure is improper valves. There is a valve located between the left atrium and left ventricle that opens when your atrium pumps blood. When the left ventricle contracts, the valve closes, ensuring that pure blood reaches the entire body. Insufficient closing of the valve will lead to leakage of blood into the left atrium. Thus, less blood is pumped out, causing heart failure. This can be surgically corrected by repairing or replacing the valve.
Here are a few facts about heart failure:
- One out of nine heart failure incidents result in death
- 50% of people diagnosed with heart failure die within five years of being diagnosed. But with the right treatment plan, your life expectancy can be increased
- You can prevent heart failure by adopting a healthy lifestyle that includes:
- Quitting smoking
- Limiting alcohol
- Avoiding unhealthy foods high in cholesterol, fats, and salt
- Getting active and discussing exercise plans with your doctor to create a healthy workout regimen
- Shedding excess pounds
- Understanding your heredity for heart failure
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle will aid in the fight against heart failure and will make a difference in the likelihood of your children developing the condition.
Symptoms and Causes
Symptoms of left-sided congestive failure include:
- Extreme weakness
- Sudden weight gain
- Loss of appetite
- Constant cough
- Irregular pulse
- Swelling in the abdominal area
- Problems breathing
- Swelling in the leg and ankle
- Increased heart rate
- Gums stay pale for a long time when pushed upon by a finger
- Crushing chest pain
The main causes for left-sided congestive failure are:
- Muscle failure in the left chamber of the heart
- Rare case of heartworm infection
- Uncontrolled thyroid
- Overloaded pressure in the left chamber of the heart
- High blood pressure
- Tightening of the aortic blood vessel
- Left ventricle tumor
- High or low level of blood sugar (i.e., diabetes)
- Abnormal development of the mitral valve
- Occurrence of a hole in the bottom of the chambers
- Difficulties filling the left side of the heart with blood
- Liquid filling the pod around the heart, which causes irregular heartbeat
- Swelling of the pod around the heart
- Enlargement of the heart
- Blood clots or tumors
- Mitral valve tightening
- Low heart rate
- Increased heart rate
- High cholesterol foods
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Being overweight
Types of Heart Failure
Heart failure can happen in both the left and right side of the heart either separately or at the same time.
- Left-sided congestive failure: Left-sided congestive failure is a very common type. This failure occurs in the bottom left side of the heart. The main function of this part is to pump or circulate oxygen-rich blood to the whole body. When this pump doesn’t work properly, left-sided congestive failure occurs. This results in blood back-up in the lungs and thus shortness of breath.
- Right-sided heart failure: The right heart chamber pumps blood to the lungs to collect oxygen. When this is not performed correctly, right-sided heart failure occurs. The right side of the heart is affected because of the problem in the left side. This problem increases the stress on the right side and results in failure. Lung disease is also a cause of right-sided heart failure.
- Diastolic heart failure: Diastolic heart failure occurs when the heart muscle becomes inflexible. This means the heart is not easily filled with blood because of a lack of blood flow to the other organs. This type of failure is more common in women.
- Systolic heart failure: Systolic heart failure occurs when the heart muscle loses its capacity to indenture. The main function of this is to pump oxygen-rich blood out to the body. This kind of failure is more common in men.
Different Treatments for Heart Failure
Heart failure treatment depends on the severity of the condition. After the first treatment, a regular check-up is necessary every three to six months. The main goal is to increase your life span.
- Medication: Certain medications will affect your heart failure in different ways. Some will improve the heart’s ability to pump blood to the whole body. When necessary, they will reduce heart rate, as well as cholesterol levels and blood clots. Medications will also lower excess sodium levels and refill potassium levels.
- Bypass surgery: Sometimes, left-sided congestive failure requires heart surgery. This kind is known as coronary bypass surgery. In this procedure, the blocked blood vessel is replaced with a healthy piece of blood vessel.
- Angioplasty: An angioplasty is also suggested by doctors. In this procedure, a tube attached with a small balloon is inserted into the blocked blood vessel. Once the tube reaches the damaged vessel, the surgeon inflates the balloon to open it. A permanent stent is placed into the blocked vessel. A stent is a wire mesh tube that holds blood vessels open.
- Pacemaker: Another option is a pacemaker, which helps control heart rhythms. These small devices are positioned into the chest, and when the heart beats too fast, they slow it down, and vice versa. Pacemakers are used along with bypass surgery and medications.
- Heart transplants: A heart transplant is used in the final stage of heart failure. In this, the whole heart is replaced with a healthy heart from a donor.
Preventing Heart Failure
The best way to maintain a healthy heart is to live a healthy lifestyle:
- Eat more green vegetables and fruits
- Lose excess weight
- Exercise regularly
- Reduce the amount of salt in the diet
- Reduce or completely cease alcohol consumption
- Quit smoking
- Avoid high cholesterol foods
- Get plenty of sleep
Long-Term Prognosis for People With Heart Failure
Heart failure is generally a long-term condition that requires continuous treatment to prevent more problems. Heart failure not well treated can be extremely dangerous and life-threatening.
Left-sided heart failure can happen to anyone. A healthy life is the only option for preventing heart failure. Always stay in contact with your doctor, especially if any new and unexplained symptoms occur in the body.
Timely treatment is extremely important with left-sided congestive failure. Sometimes, the symptoms will become worse over time. Medications and surgeries can help this problem, but not every time. Always be aware of the symptoms of heart failure and help those who need it.