Heart Failure Treatment
Heart failure is a serious condition that develops when the heart is no longer able to carry on its normal work. It happens to the most patient with serious heart disease at some time or other in the course of their disease. The heart has only one function – to pump the blood stream and keep it circulating through all parts of the body.
When the heart is tired or weakened by disease, the bloodstream tends to slow down and fluid will gather in certain areas, such as in the feet, ankles, and legs. In many patient the liver also becomes large and tender, and the lungs begin to fill up with fluid, making breathing difficult.
Heart Failure Causes:
Heart failure may arise from number of different conditions, such as high blood preassure, coronary thrombosis, kidney disease, rheumatic fever, diphtheria, and low thyroid activity. Anything obstructing the normal flow of blood, such as mitral or aorticstenosis, will eventually produce sever heart failure.
This delay circulation reduces the flow of blood to the kidneys, so that water is no longer excerted in sufficient amounts. This failure to excrete fluid produces a state known as edema or swealing of the tissue. The lungs may then begin to fill up with the fluid, and this in turn reduces the normal exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide. This loss of “vital capacity” of the lungs is very serious and must be relieved without delay if the patient is to survive.
As the fluid continues to gather in the lungs, the patient may then suffer from severe spells of coughing and shortness of breath. The skin begins to lose its normal color, turning bluish due to the condition known as cyanosis. The patient may be forced to sit up at night, or use four or five pillows when trying to rest. At times he may cough up a frothy, pinkish, blood-tinged material, especially at night. This is known as pulmonary edeme.
As condition gets worse, the patient becomes anxious and fearful for his own future. His liver may be enlarged and tender, and his kidneys congested and unable to eliminate all these excess fluids from the body. There may be albumin and casts in the urine. Back pressure on the digestive organs may result in distressing symptoms, such as gas, constipation, lack of appetite, and distention of the bowel. All of this lowers the normal nutrition of the individual and interferes with his recovery.
Heart Failure Treatment:
To treat heart failure successfully, requires both skill and experience, for the patient’s body is already overloaded with fluid. In the more severe states powerful diuretic medicines, such as Mercuhydrin, are injected into the muscle to aid the kidneys in getting rid of the excess fluids. Chlorothiazide tablets (Diuril) are valuable maintaining a normal output of fluid from the kidneys. They must be taken once or twice daily to help maintain the correct fluid balance.
For many years digitalis has been the chief stimulant for the heart. Most patients need one tablet a day. Because there is already too much salt in the tissue, the patient must avod the excess use of salt. However, patients taking Diuril or similar “water pill” may need a little salt. Potassium in some form should be given daily. A glass of orange juice will usually provide enough potassium to meet the body’s need.
In the more severe cases, oxygen may be needed, particularly during the night. If the patient is restless, he could be given some mild sedative. He should be relieved of all causes of anxiety and emotional strain. Many people with mild heart failure can carry on their normal work, provided they have long quite weekends in which to recover. When the heart is tired from work, a few days’ rest in bed will usually bring the body back to its normal activity.
Good nursing care is most essential in more severe cases. The patient should give up smoking permanently. He should be protected from colds these place an extra strain on the heart and lungs and may prove to much, especially when one is already weak and tired.
After a severe bout of failure, the patient should rest as much as possible, and only gradually increase his activities until he is back to normal. In future he should continue a careful program of living, avoiding all unnecessary activity and excitement that might overload the heart. With proper rest and a well-balanced program of living, most patients with heart failure can get along fairly well, provided they live whitin their limits of activity and keep cheerful and optimistic as far as possible.