Dr Mark Kennedy - Private Internal Medicine Specialist
Heart Failure and Cardiomyopathy
Heart failure refers to the heart failing to pump efficiently.
There are many diseases that cause this including coronary artery disease, high blood pressure, viral infections, alcohol, and diseases affecting the valves of the heart. When the heart is inefficient a number of symptoms occur depending on the cause and severity of the condition. The main symptoms are tiredness, breathlessness on exertion or lying flat, and ankle swelling. Doctors often refer to oedema, which means fluid retention, usually in your feet or lungs, as a result of the heart not pumping efficiently.
Tests looking for possible causes of heart failure include:
- Chest X-ray
- Blood tests to rule out iron overload (haemochromatosis)
- Electrocardiogram (ECG)
- Echocardiogram (Cardiac ultrasound or Echo)
- Coronary Angiogram
You are likely to have several medications over time; these include medication to control the amount of fluid that builds up (diuretics), medication to protect your heart and slow it down as well as to thin your blood. You will be given advice about restricting the amount of sodium (salt) you take, as this can contribute to fluid retention and worsening symptoms. You can also be involved in cardiac rehabilitation programmes run by the cardiac nurses. You will be given reading material to learn more about your disease.
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This page was last updated at 11:19AM on May 13, 2019.