In cardiac decompensation, heart pumping becomes ineffective because the muscle is weakened by the disease or because there is a mechanical error in the heart valves that regulate blood circulation. If the heart can not maintain normal capacity, blood will accumulate in the veins that lead to the heart. Cardiac (heart) decompensation sometimes affects only one side of the heart, but more often both sides. If the whole heart is affected, this condition is called congestive cardiac decompensation.
In the decompensation of the left heart, veins, which drain the blood from the lungs, are overload with blood (congestion). Because of this, the lungs are swollen and filled with fluid that goes from the blood vessels to the lungs. In the decompensating of the right heart, blood accumulates in veins that lead to the heart from other parts of the body, so the affected parts are swollen – the most obvious is a swelling on the feet. Despite the name, heart decompensation is not a disease that directly threatens life. Consequences largely depend on the severity of the underlying disease.
Left heart decompensation: the main symptom is the loss of breath. At first, you will breathe hardly after physical activities, but this symptom becomes more pronounced, especially at night when you are tired. Since it may be difficult to breathe when you are sleeping, put more than one pillow under your head or, even better, sit. Severe breath loss can be so strong that you will want to lean through the window for inhalation. Severe breathing can be accompanied by “wheezing” in the chest. Although seizures usually only one hour or less, they may be very uncomfortable.
Sometimes, the lungs are so full of blood that the patient can hear your gurgling during breathing. Chest pains and bloody sputum can also occur. Fluid in the lungs reduces resistance to infections, and diseases such as pneumonia are common in patients with decompensation of the left heart.
Right heart decompensation: the most common symptom is exhaustion; however, exhaustion is a sign of many diseases, so it is not a trustworthy sign of a heart decompensation. A more reliable symptom is the swelling of any part of the body where the fluid accumulates. If you are moving, then this is commonly seen on the swollen ankles. If you’re hooked up to the bed, the swelling will be best seen in the lower part of the back. Internal organs, such as the liver, may also swell, which can be accompanied by pain in the abdominal cavity.
In congestive heart (cardiac) decompensation, you will probably have symptom of decompensation of the left and symptom of the decompensation of the right heart. In addition, loss of appetite can also occur, and also disturbance. Due to insufficient supply of blood, the muscles of arms and legs are weakening, but this does not have to be noticed immediately because of the swelling that is associated with this condition.
Heart decompensation is quite common; in the UK, this condition develops in approximately one out of 130 people annually. If you have problems with a heart and your doctor already treats you for this condition, you probably know that you are prone to cardiac decompensation.
Untreated cardiac decompensation can end up with death. If the cardiac decompensation is cured, the only danger comes from the root cause of the disease.
What to do?
If you feel you have a heart decompensation, contact a doctor who will measure your blood pressure and tell you to bring the urine for analysis to determine if the kidneys are affected. Diagnostic tests will probably include an X-ray examination to detect pulmonary problems and heart size. An electrocardiogram (EKG) will allow a doctor to determine the conditon of your heart. It may be advisable to perform other tests to detect the root cause.
Self-help: take a lot of rest in order to save energy. Even if you have to reduce your body activity, that does not mean that you have to stay in bed all time; a moderate activity is advisable. Comfortable armchair is better than bed. In addition, cardiac decompensation does not mean that you have to be permanently restrained. Treatment of decompensation and basic illness may end up with return to normal activities.
Even while you rest, do some minor activities – move your legs, often changing the position or relaxing and tapping the leg muscles. Since the blood flow is slowed down in a person with cardiac decompensation, blood is prone to clotting, especially in the legs and pelvis, if it is not accelerated by movement of the leg muscles.
Since the salt stimulates the accumulation of fluid in the body, reduce the salt intake.
Professional help: in addition to treating the root cause, your doctor will determine the medication that will make your life easier. Among them are diuretics, from which you will urinate more and thus reduce the amount of fluid in the body. It is best to take such supplies in the morning, because it is more convenient to urinate during the day. The doctor may prescribe some other means of strengthening the heart’s work, especially when it comes to rhythm irregularity. The doctor will carefully monitor the amount and the dosing time, as excessive doses can cause nausea. It is important to abide by the doctors’ instructions and do not interrupt treatment until the doctor tells you, even if you think that you no longer need it.
If you have to stay in bed for a long time, you will need to drink anticoagulants against blood clotting. Blood samples should be taken at certain intervals so that the physician can check whether the dose is correct. An overdose of anticoagulant agents can cause bleeding in the intestines, skin, or urine.
Acute (sudden) decompensation of the heart, with very high loss of breath, requires urgent medical intervention. The patient must immediately go to the hospital where he will recieve the oxygen and injections of medicines that act immediately.
The medication will help you breathe and reduce the swelling. If cardiac decompensation reaches the stage when it no longer responds to rest and therapy, there is a form of healing that provides some hope -heart transplantation. Replacing a sick heart with a healthy attack, taken from victims of traffic accidents or stroke, has proven to be very effective in some cases, but this operation is still in the experimental stage, and the risk should be aligned with the patient’s outlook without such treatment.