Healthy Heart

Who Should You Call If You Have Congestive Heart Failure?

Who Should You Call If You Have Congestive Heart Failure?

Key Takeaways

  • Yes, this is one of the most important decisions you will take when you are diagnosed with a heart failure
  • Cardiologists treat heart failure, diseases of the blood vessels that supply the heart, and high blood pressure.
  • Heart failure specialists are cardiologists who are specialized in treating heart failure and performing heart transplants, which involves implanting somebody else’s heart in the effected person’s body.

Heart failure should be treated early. With the right treatment, your life expectancy can be increased. Patients observing any of the symptoms related to congestive heart failure should never wait for the regular appointment dates. Instead, they should consult your doctor in no time to avoid further complications and severity of the problem.

Keys associated with proper management of heart failure problems involve taking regular medications, bringing changes in the regular diet plan, taking regular exercises and remaining active.

In simple words, one should choose to lead a healthy lifestyle, monitor health properly to deal with new or any worsening signs related to heart failure.

Along with this, you have to schedule regular appointments with your doctor, particularly cardiologists, so that you get necessary guidelines to stay healthy for your entire life.

If you have any of the symptoms related to congestive heart failure, you should never wait for your regular appointment dates. Instead, you should consult your doctor in no time.

Reason for this is very simple, if doctors identify the symptoms at early stage, he may change medications to relieve such symptoms and thereby, avoid further complications.

Risk Factors for Congestive Heart Failure

Risk factors for congestive heart failure include:

  • High blood pressure
  • High blood sugar levels
  • Diabetes
  • Heart attack
  • Excess insoluble fat in the body
  • Excess of bad cholesterol
  • Problems in the kidneys
  • Coronary heart disease
  • Valve defect
  • Viral or any kind of bacterial infections
  • Substance abuse (alcohol, drugs, and tobacco)
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
  • Asthma or other chronic respiratory lung disorders
  • Older age
  • Irregular heart rate

Severe Signs and Symptoms

Go to the emergency room if you develop the following:

  • Severe chest pain
  • Extreme shortness of breath or you can’t breathe at rest
  • Arrhythmia or fast and irregular heart beat (heart rate of more than 120 beats per minute)
  • Nausea and dizziness, followed by fainting
  • Foamy and pink mucus
  • If you feel your pacemaker is infected. Signs of infection are the same as the signs of inflammation: redness, pain, and warmth. A pacemaker is a device which is installed under your skin to correct your heart beat.
  • A severe headache that appears suddenly
  • A sudden weakness with an inability to move your legs and/or arms

Call your doctor or nurse if you develop any of the following symptoms:

  • Weight gain all of a sudden (3 pounds/1.4 kg in 2 to 3 days)
  • Swelling, especially in your feet
  • You don’t lose excess water weight, though you take diuretics or water pills
  • An abnormal increase in coughing
  • Repeated dry cough, especially when you lie down
  • You wake up while asleep, feeling breathless or suffocated
  • You experience trouble breathing while doing day to day activities
  • You feel weak
  • You feel full or bloated
  • You pass less urine or you pass dark colored urine
  • You develop new symptoms that are unexplained
  • You feel changes in your sleeping pattern; you feel difficulty falling asleep or you feel the need to sleep more than usual
  • Constant dizziness accompanied with restlessness and confusion

Diagnosis of congestive heart failure

Firstly, the doctor will conduct a physical examination and also check your medical history. They will ask you about the symptoms of congestive heart failure, such as shortness of breath, swelling in the legs, chest pain, and what you as a patient do in order to make it better. It will also be important to know whether the symptoms have come on gradually or over a shorter period of time. A doctor may also ask about your family history.

If you are diagnosed with heart failure, the first and most important question will involve which doctor you should see for treatment.

The doctor who you choose will reconfirm if you have heart failure. Look for a doctor who is an expert. Secondly, you should be comfortable with the doctor who you choose. These factors will decide the success of your treatment. The following doctors treat heart failure.

  1. Family medicine practitioners and general practitioners can treat heart failure. In case you have a complex heart failure, they refer you to specialists.
  2. Internists treat mild to moderate heart failures. For severe conditions, they refer you to specialists.
  3. A cardiologist is a doctor who specializes in heart and blood vessels which supply heart. You may also opt to get treated by your family physician while seeing a cardiologist in between.
  4. Cardiac electrophysiologists treat your heart failure. They correct your heart beat. An abnormal heart beat pattern is one of the causes of heart failure.

Bradycardia is when your heart beats less than the normal number of times. This compromises blood flow. A cardiac electrophysiologist will correct this using a pacemaker.

Cardiac electrophysiologists will treat other heart beat problems, such as arrhythmia, using different types of pacemakers accordingly.

Call your doctor right away if you have a pacemaker or ICD and think you have an infection near the device. Signs of an infection include the following.

  • Changes in the skin around your pacemaker or ICD, such as:
    • Swelling
    • Warm feeling
    • Redness
    • Pain
  • Fever not caused by the flu or another illness

The following specialists may be able to help if you have congestive heart failure:

  1. Cardiac specialists repair faulty valves and blockages in blood vessels which supply heart.
  2. Heart failure specialists help you with heart transplants. When no other treatment is resolving your heart failure, heart transplant is an option. Once you find a suitable donor, his healthy heart is put in place of your diseased heart.

Once you are diagnosed with heart failure, you will need to follow up with your doctor in the first week post heart failure. Thereafter for several weeks, your doctor needs to see you every week to check on how you are responding to medicines.

The best way is to prevent something from happening. There are of course medications that help you recover from congestive heart failure, but certain measures would help prevent any heart related disorder:

  • Regular visits with your doctor - You must regularly pay visits to both your PCP and cardiologist. Congestive heart failure must be monitored closely, and any changes must be treated properly. It is advisable to weigh yourself every week, so that you may consult your doctor immediately if you notice any sudden rise in your weight.
  • Exercise - Of course, exercising won’t be easy once you have had a heart failure. Heavy and stressful exercises are a big no-no. However, you could always indulge in walking and other cardio related activities. You might want to consult with a physiotherapist to get better results. 
  • Avoid fluid overload - The basic treatment of congestive heart failure involves removing of excess fluid and improving blood flow. Restricting fluid intake is important. Do remember that the more fluid the heart is unable to pump forward, the more symptoms that will appear in the long run due to the amount of workload imposed. It only stands to reason that a decrease in fluid intake can reduce the amount of work the heart has to deal with.
  • Avoid smoking and drinking - Smoking and drinking must be avoided completely if you wish to live a happy and prosperous life. The chemicals in cigarettes carry a lot of carbon monoxide, and this molecule worsens the ability of oxygen to be carried properly to the different tissues.
  • Stay healthy - It takes a lot of energy for your body to fight off everyday illnesses like the flu virus. Be sure to stay current on flu and pneumonia vaccinations. A respiratory disease may cause decompensation of your heart failure, so it’s not a good idea to take the risk.

Consultation Phases in Case of Congestive Heart Failure

Phase 1:-Consultation with Family Doctor

Whenever you identify initial symptoms, it becomes essential for you to schedule appointment with your family doctor. These cases include

Sudden Heart Failure Symptoms

When patients found sudden symptoms of their heart failure, like

  • Severe breathing shortness or trouble in taking breath even when they rest
  • Facing the problem of irregular heartbeat suddenly, which lasts for sometime or heartbeat becomes very fast with other problems, like fainting, nausea and dizziness.
  • Pink and foamy mucus with breathing shortness and cough

Heart Attack Symptoms

Main symptoms related to heart attack requiring appointment of doctors are as follows:-

  • Pain in chest or pressure problems, along with strange feelings
  • Breathing shortness and sweating in an abnormal manner
  • Problem of vomiting or nausea
  • Pressure, pain and a strange feeling in the neck, back, upper part of the belly, jaw and in one or both arms or shoulders
  • Sudden weakness or lightheadedness
  • Irregular and fast heartbeat

Stroke Symptoms

Stroke symptoms, for which patients should visit to the clinic or office of their family doctors are-

  • Weakness, tingling, sudden numbness or paralysis in arms, face and legs, particularly, on any one side of the body.
  • Sudden changes in one’s vision
  • Sudden difficulty in talking/speaking with others
  • Confusion or difficulty in understanding various simple yet easy statements
  • Sudden problems with balance or walking on the floor
  • Sudden and severe headache, which is different from the previous ones

Pacemaker Infection

Patients should immediately consult with their doctors in case they face problems with ICD or pacemaker. Even you should contact within no time if you feel of an infection nearby the pacemaker device. Main signs associated with ICD infection are-

  • Changes in humans’ skin across the ICD or pacemaker, like warmth, swelling, pain and redness.
  • Fever that does not take place because of flu or any other similar type of illness

Heart Failure

You should make sure of giving call to your doctor if you identify symptoms related to heart failure. These include-

  • Excessive tiredness or weakness, which may even prevent you from performing your regular activities
  • Breathing problems, like difficulty in taking breath while you perform your regular activities or physical exercise, in which you recently started facing problems.
  • Sudden breathing shortness may be sometimes, it remains in mild condition
  • Breathing shortness while lying down on the bed
  • Walking up during nighttime because of suffocation feelings or shortness in breath

Other Symptoms

  • Hacking and dry cough problems, particularly, when a person lies down in the bed
  • Sudden increase in weight, such as 1.5 kilograms or more than that even within 2 to 3 days
  • Increasing in fluid formation in human body, usually in legs
  • Worsening of one’s symptoms related to heart failure
  • Identifying sudden changes in any of the aforementioned symptoms
  • Trouble in keeping all possible symptoms, including the minor ones under proper control of humans

Phase 2-Consultation with Emergency Department and Cardiologists

Patients should immediately approach cardiologists working in the emergency department, as soon as they identify following problems-

  • New yet severe type of discomfort or chest pain, unexpected breathing problems combined with shortness in taking breath, weakness, nausea and sweating problems.
  • Angine form of pain in chest, which would last for about 15 minutes or more and relieving of it is not possible via rest or any medication such as nitroglycerin.
  • Fast rate of heartbeat i.e. approximately 120 beats to 150 beats in one minute, particularly, in case of dizziness or short of breath.
  • Sudden weakness or the problem of paralysis in legs or arms
  • Sudden onset related to headache severely
  • Fainting with unconsciousness

Phase 3-Appointment with Heart Failure Specialists or Surgeons

If you still fail to get relieve from your cardiac or heart problems, you should contact with heart failure specialists or surgeons. These professionals will help patients by providing heart transplantation solutions. For this, you have to find out a perfect donor. In this case, doctors place the healthy heart of donors in the place of diseased heart.

Our Decisions

If we deal with the problem of heart failure or any of the symptoms or categories mentioned here, we should never wait for the time, our problem becomes complicated or our symptoms become too much severe. Rather, we should come up with the right decision of scheduling appointment with doctor and look for emergency treatments. Particularly, we should choose to keep ourselves in the safe zone i.e. keep the necessary information mentioned here close to our cell phones, so that we could get easy access of-

  • List of cardiac experts, family doctor’s clinic number and his nurses contact numbers
  • List of necessary medications or dosages aimed to give temporary relief until the time, we fetch for the medical treatment
  • List of allergies we deal

Therefore, with some simple and easy steps, we would expect to boost our heart health and overcome from cardiac problems to stay healthy and happy life.