Congestive Heart Failure (CHF)
Heart disease is the number 0ne killer in the USA. Almost 6 million Americans have heart failure. More than 870,000 cases are diagnosed each year. If you have heart failure your heart isn’t pumping as well as it should be and your body is probably not getting enough oxygen. You have a weak heart.
Even simple activities, like walking or carrying groceries, become difficult, and you experience fatigue, shortness of breath, fluid build-up and coughing.
The Heart Structure
The heart is a muscle with four chambers, a two-sided pumping system, one on each side, right and left, four valv
es and an electrical system
The upper chambers are called atrias (left and right), and the lower chambers are called ventricles (left and right)
The right side pumping system sends blood to the lungs and the left side sends blood to all the other organs of the body.
The four valves are called aortic, pulmonary, tricuspid and mitral. Each of the four chambers has one valve and the valves work in pairs.
The electrical system synchronises the pumping activity so that the blood can flow steadily.
General Theory For The Causes Of CHF
In reaction to a weakening of the pumping system after years of hard working , the body tries to compensate starting a so
called “remodelling” process which involves its structures, basically forcing the heart to do his job: move more blood. This process increases the size of the heart and some of the blood backs up into the lungs causing a congestion.
The consequence is the reduction of the blood supply to the kidneys which cannot perform their proper function to regulate body fluids which will accumulate in excess causing the swelling of legs and ankles typical of heart failure patients.
The excessive fluid buildup forces the heart to start working harder which weakens it further, and so no and so forth in an unstoppable cycle.
This is Congestive Heart Failure, caused by the progressive slowing of the heart to pump the amount of blood your body needs due to its weakness. This state get more serious quickly, with the patient feeling weakened their state declining rapidly.
More Recent Theories
More recent theories point to increased levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines such as tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-alpha). And a clinical trial indicated that a high dose of vitamin D could help people with congestive heart failure.
In this trial, scientists monitored the effects of a 2,000-IU dose of vitamin D supplement versus a placebo per day on 123 CHF patients. Nine months later, vitamin D patients enjoyed a 43 percent increase in the levels of a natural anti-inflammatory produced by the body (the interleukin-10) and no increase in the TNF-alpha levels.
The TNF-alpha levels in patients not given vitamin D rose 12 percent and their interleukin-10 levels were unchanged.
These results are in line with earlier studies linking heart disease and vitamin D deficiency.
Who Is At Risk
Though it usually hits people over age 65, even younger people could be at risk for Congestive Heart Failure if they have one or more of these conditions:
– Arrhythmias. The heart electrical system generates irregular heart beats.
– Coronary Artery Disease. Narrowing of the coronary arteries (can be treated with ballon angioplasty to widen the arteries) of coronary bypass surgery
– High Blood Pressure. Can lead to heart failure due to hard work the heart has to do to pump blood through the body.
– Heart Attack. Happens when one of the coronary artery gets blocked thus become nterrupting the blood flow to the heart. The damaged heart tries to repair itself getting weaker in the process and setting it for heart failure.
– Valvular Disease. The heart valves become leaky and lose flexibility with difficulty in opening and closing. The resulting reduced blood flow makes the heart work harder and weaken. Replacement or surgical repair of the valves is possible.
– Diabetes. A metabolic disorder characterised by buildup of sugar in the blood. The heart condition cause by diabetes is called “diabetic cardiopathy”
Congestive heart failure can develop progressively into what is called chronic heart failure, more common, or suddenly into what is called acute heart failure.
Symptoms of Heart Failure
Doctors listening to your lung can identify your problem by a specific sound of clicking, rattling, or bubbling in your lungs which they call “rales” that distinguishes heart failure from a respiratory infection.
If you have congestive heart failure you might experience also:
- Chest pain (Angina)
- Rapid heartbeat
- Lack of appetite
- Persistent coughing
- Shortness of breath
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, heart failure contributes to nearly 300,000 deaths yearly in the USA alone.
Treatments of Conventional Medicine.
Treatment of this condition to be successful requires a lot of time and a good dose of patients on the side of both the cardiologist and his patient. The official medicine treats heart failure with drugs (many, two or more at a time) and surgery.
– Diuretics to eliminate excess body fluid. Because it is important to monitor and regulate fluids, their buildup can be controlled also with restriction of salt intake which causes the body to retain fluids. This has become a dietary dogma but in reality you may want to think carefully about slashing your salt intake if you have heart failure. New research has linked it with an increased risk of death. Heart benefits of salt restriction are increasingly questioned.
At the Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, researchers followed 800 heart failure patients for three years. the researchers found that the followers of a low-sodium diet were 85 percent more likely to die or require hospitalization for heart disease compared to those who didn’t restrict their salt intake. And 42 percent died or were hospitalized for heart problems during the study, compared to 26 percent of those with no salt restrictions.
The conclusion of the study was “In symptomatic patients with chronic heart failure, sodium restriction may have a detrimental impact on outcome.”
So, Be Aware That Too Little Salt May be Dangerous
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) recommend limiting your daily sodium intake to 1,500 mg (about one-half teaspoon) for people who are age 51 and older, African-American, or who have hypertension, diabetes or chronic kidney disease .
BUT population-wide recommendations to restrict salt intake to very low levels could in fact increase rates of a wide range of diseases.
According to one study a low-salt diet led to an increase in insulin resistance, a known risk factor for type 2 diabetes — and the change occurred in just seven days of this diet.
According to a research published in JAMA it was found that consuming less than 3,000 mg of sodium per day may increase your risk of dying from heart disease.
A low-sodium diet is linked also to increases in LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, and an increased risk of death for diabetics
Hyponatremia is a condition in which your body has too little sodium, causing fluid levels to rise and your cells to swell. Hyponatremia is most common in older adults and athletes (whose sodium levels may become depleted by excessive sweating and drinking too much water). At its worst, hyponatremia can be life thr eatening, leading to brain swelling, coma and death.
The difference between natural salt and the processed salt (the one that isadded to processed foods and salt shakers in most homes and restaurants). Natural salt is essential for good health, whereas processed salt is best avoided altogether. Because 77 percent of Americans sodium intake comes from processed and restaurant foods; when you reduce processed foods in your diet, you’ll automatically reduce your intake of processed salt as well. This will help you balance the important sodium-potassium ratio.
– Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme Inhibitors (ACE Inhibitors ) should relive symptoms and strengthen the heart by blocking the effects of the hormone Angiotensin produced by the kidneys. This should result in the blood vessel to relax lowering blood pressure.
– Bet-Blockers administered in conjunction with the ACE to lower blood pressure and pulse rate letting the heart relax. And supposedly assisting in the remodelling of the heart back to normal.
– Digoxin to strengthen the heart contraction and steady the heartbeat.
– Nitrates, taken by people who cannot take ACE, to help the blood flow more easily.
Today’s surgical treatment do not require heart transplant any more.
1. LVAD. For very serious cases of failure which were requiring a heart transplant years ago, now a device called LVAD (Left Ventricular Assist Device) is given.
LVAD consists of two small battery-operated pumps implanted in the body and externally controlled.
2. Dual-chamber pacemakers is the usual heart failure treatment. they have wires connected to the lower and upper chambers of the heart. And a defibrillator monitors the heart rhythm and sends a shock when it senses the arrhythmia, to revert the heart rhythm to normal.
Valvular Heart Disease
The double sound of the heartbeat (soft and hard) does not come from the heart contracting itself, it comes from the opening and closing work of the valves which, in a healthy person it happens approximately 100,000 times a day, so imagine how much work they have done when your reach age 65, therefore it is not surprising that valvular heart disease is on the increase as the populations lives longer and longer.
The four valves are called aortic, pulmonary, tricuspid and mitral.
The upper chambers are called atria (left and right), and the lower chambers are called ventricles (left and right)
The tricuspid valve lets the blood out of the right atrium into the right ventricles.
The pulmonary valve lets the blood out of the right ventricle into pulmonary arteries where it can pick up oxygen.
The mitral valve lets blood out of the left atrium down into the left ventricle.
The aortic valve lets the blood out of the left ventricle into the aorta artery which carries the blood to other arteries throughout the cardiovascular system.
The first softer sound of the heartbeat is the work of the valves of the upper chambers releasing blood to the ventricles, the second harder sound of the heartbeat is the work of the lower chambers pushing blood into the body.
It can happen that the valves do not open completely (stenosis) or that they do not close completely (regurgitation). If they do not open all the way the blood flow is restricted, if they do not close completely the blood leaks back into the chamber.
The “heart murmur” often is not often a sign of a valvular malfunction but it could be the sound made by the heart when the heart valves are leaking or not releasing a full flow of blood so further tests like X-rays or EKG are necessary to determine if the heart is enlarged or if the heartbeat rythm is correct.
Symptoms of Valvular Heart Disease
Valvular disease is the leading cause of congestive heart failure and progresses with age. You could experience a number of symptoms if you have it:
- shortness of breath all the times,
- fatigue or dizziness
- discomfort in the chest
- irregular heart beat
- swelling of the lower legs and feet
- swelling of the lower abdomen
but valvular disease is normally detected by a doctor through stethoscopic listening.
Doctors general advice as to what you can do to protect yourself from complications is to:
- monitor your blood pressure as lower levels is easier on the valves,
- eat fresh food and manage cholesterol levels
- take antibiotics before surgical procedures, and
- take antibiotics before any medical work that involves bleeding (dental works or any kind of surgery). You are at a higher risk of an infection (called endocarditis) if you have valvular disease or if have had valve replacement. This infection takes place when bacteria enter the bloodstream
- take a bunch of all the medications they throw at you (beta-blockers, diuretics, vasodilators, anti-arhythmic medications, etc., etc.)
- always carry with you an identification card that indicates your valvular disease to help doctors understand how to treat you, in case you suffer a cardiac event.
Surgically, besides a procedure similar to that used to open arteries with a balloon -used in some cases, to fix a valve problem there are two replacement option.
- Replacement with a tissue valve, usually from a cow, a pig, or from a human donor. This type of valve lasts about 10 years and does not require the patient to take anti-coagulation treatments.
- Replacement with a mechanical heart valve made of metal or plastic. This implant will last forever obviously but will require a lifetime treatment of blood thinner medications in order to prevent the formation of clots in the valve itself.
Recovery from valve replacement will take approximately 2-3 months.
For safety and best results, surgical procedures concerning the valves seek only the help of a specialised experienced surgeon of a heart center.
Natural Treatment For CHF
New evidence shows further support that getting a daily dose of vitamin D boosts your natural anti-inflammatory response. And it can go a long way to treat a failing heart. The healthier and easier way to get it than from the sun.
And Optimizing your sun exposure and levels of vitamin D, through appropriate sun exposure, is the most important physical step anyone can take to support their general long-term health. The natural power of sunshine can be used to treat also type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis and even tuberculosis.
It is important that you increase your vitamin D level is through appropriate sun exposure primarily. It is better than taking oral supplements, UNLESS you can have your blood levels checked regularly.Taking oral supplements could be risky. causing potentially dangerous elevations of vitamin D levels. For this reason if you take oral supplements and not testing you could be setting yourself up for serious problems.
When you get your vitamin D from appropriate sun exposure your body can indeed self-regulate and greatly reduce vitamin D production if you don’t need it, which makes it very difficult to overdose on vitamin D from sun exposure.
Because the vitamin D is oil-soluble,i you are exercising in the sun and sweat quite a bit, do not shower immediately after being in the sun as the vitamin D is formed in your skin and can be easily washed off. So let your body absorb the vitamin D you produce in your skin after sun exposure.
It is important to get outside regularly – every day, if it is possible. When you get the slightest amount of pink you know you have had enough sun and need to seek shade.
Because in nearly every circumstance, getting your vitamin D by exposing your body to UV light from the sun is the best option, remember:
1. To stay away from tanning beds as they can increase your risk of cancer.
2. Avoid to stay in the sun long enough to burn your skin.
3. Especially at the beginning of the season, limit your exposure to five to 10 minutes a day. Increase your time in the sun progressively so that in a few weeks, you will be able to have normal sun exposure with little risk of skin cancer.
Natural Strategies To Prevent Heart Failure and Other Heart Problems
Regardless of your age, there are a few strategies that can protect your heart. Adopt them right away. Do not wait until you experience or heart failure or heart attack symptoms to take action because by then it may be too late. Do it now to prevent any long-lasting damage:
- Eat unprocessed saturated animal fats. Increase the healthy fat in their diet to 50 to 85 percent of daily calories.
- Avoid all sugars, regardless if they are conventional or organic. Avoid especially processed fructose and grains if you are insulin and leptin resistant.High-sugar, high-grain diet promotes insulin and leptin resistance, a primary driver of heart disease.
- Minimize your intake of salt from processed foods. Use natural salt such as Himalayan salt.
- Exercise regularly. People who exercise regularly have up to 33 percent lower risk of heart failure than inactive people.Use a combination high intensity interval training for strength stretching, and core work.
- Avoid excess sitting; aim for three hours a day or less of sitting and try to take 10,000 steps a day (in addition to your exercise program).
- Manage your stress daily.
Until next time.