Congestive Heart Failure Prevention
The key to preventing congestive heart failure is to reduce your risk factors that can lead to heart failure. Several of the risk factors – for example, high blood pressure, high cholesterol or coronary artery disease – can be controlled and possibly eliminated through lifestyle changes and medications.
Help Reduce Your Risk of Congestive Heart Failure
You can lower your chances of congestive heart failure through several methods:
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Don’t smoke
- Don’t drink alcohol in excess
- Eat healthy foods and reduce sodium intake
- Exercise as recommended by your WellStar physician
- Control certain physical conditions, including high blood pressure, cholesterol and diabetes
- Reduce and manage stress
Tests and Screenings for Congestive Heart Failure
The symptoms of congestive heart failure can be confused with symptoms of other diseases that affect breathing, including bronchitis, pneumonia, emphysema and asthma. In diagnosing for congestive heart failure, your WellStar Cardiac Network physician will take a careful medical history and perform a physical examination. The physical examination can determine if you have fluid within or around the lungs (pleural effusion), an irregular heartbeat, fluid build-up in your legs or abdomen, distended veins in your neck or abnormal sounds in your heart or lungs.
Based on the exam, your physician might order some of these tests:
- Chest X-ray to reveal fluid build-up in the lungs and possible enlargement of the heart
- Blood tests to check your kidney and metabolic functions or for diseases that could affect the performance of your heart
- Electrocardiogram (ECG) to record the electrical activity of your heart and to reveal if there are rhythmic issues or if there had been a heart attack
- Echocardiogram, an ultrasound test, designed to show the pumping and filling of your heart, a measurement known as the ejection fraction. In a healthy heart, the ejection fraction is about 55 percent.
- Multiple-Gated Acquisition Scanning (MUGA) in which a mild radioactive dye is injected into a vein so that it may travel to the heart where scans can better detail the performance of the heart.
- Cardiac Stress Tests which measure your heart’s performance during exertion.
- Cardiac Computerized Tomography (CT) Scan or Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI).
- Cardiac Catheterization or angiogram in which a thin, flexible tube (catheter) is inserted into your groin or arm and guided through the aorta into your heart. Dye is injected through the tube so that the arteries and pumping chamber (left ventricle) are outlined.