Understanding the Stages of Heart Failure - Magzinenow

Understanding the Stages of Heart Failure

According to the CDC, around 6.2 million Americans have heart failure. Many of them don’t even know it.

That’s because heart failure is a progressive disease, and they don’t recognize the stages of heart failure. It’s easy to confuse heart failure with normal ageing, but you can take steps to prolong your life when you’re aware of this condition.

A few lifestyle changes mean you can lead a healthy, active life despite this condition. These are the heart failure stages you need to know about, so you can get the help you need.

1. Pre-Heart Failure

Stage A is largely a preventive stage. It applies to people who have a high risk of developing one of the types of heart failure due to various conditions.

These are:

  • Family history of heart failure or cardiomyopathy
  • Coronary artery disease
  • Hypertension
  • Diabetes
  • History of rheumatic fever or alcohol abuse
  • Metabolic syndrome
  • History of taking some drugs, like cancer drugs

Primary prevention is the treatment plan for this stage of heart failure. This involves regular exercise, quitting smoking, and avoiding alcohol.

 If you suffer from diabetes, high cholesterol, or high blood pressure, you must take the recommended medication and follow a healthy lifestyle to prevent heart failure.

This type of heart failure treatment applies to every level of the disease.

2. Stage B Heart Failure

This stage, also called silent heart failure, is largely asymptomatic. It usually applies to patients with systolic left ventricular dysfunction.

In most cases, these people have an echocardiogram showing an ejection fraction of below 40%.

Treatment for this stage includes the administration of:

  • Beta-blocker to treat a heart attack, or low EF
  • Angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitor (ACE-1)
  • Angiotensin II receptor blocker (ARB)
  • Aldosterone antagonist for diabetes of low EF
  • SGLT2 inhibitor medicines
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In the event of coronary artery blockage, valve disease, or heart attack, surgery is an effective treatment option, too.

3. Diagnosed Heart Failure

Patients with stage C heart failure exhibit many of the symptoms of heart failure. These are:

  • Fatigue
  • Decreased ability to exercise
  • shortness of breath
  • Edema, i.e. swollen feet, ankles, abdomen, and lower legs

Usual treatments for patients at this stage include treatments listed in stage B, plus:

  • A combination of angiotensin receptor and neprilysin inhibitors
  • Combination of nitrate/hydralazine treatments
  • Medications to slow the heart rate
  • Diuretics, possible fluid restriction, and a restricted-sodium diet
  • Weight assessment to monitor fluid retention

More extensive treatment methods include cardiac resynchronization therapy and implantable cardiac defibrillator therapy.

4. Final Stages of Heart Failure

This is the most serious and final stage of heart failure, and these patients show serious symptoms even while at rest.

Medical specialists may try all the stages listed above before opting for more extensive treatment like:

  • heart transplant
  • ventricular assist devices
  • heart surgery
  • continuous infusion of intravenous inotropic drugs

As a last resort, palliative or hospice care is the only option.

Take Good Care of Your Heart

Recognizing the initial stages of heart failure is vital for prolonging your quality of life and preventing serious consequences.

Schedule an appointment with your doctor if you have any concerns about any shortness of breath or other symptoms associated with heart failure.

A healthy lifestyle is one of the best ways to ensure heart health. Browse our blog for excellent insights into how to improve and maintain your health.

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