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Battling Chronic Congestive Heart Failure

Dec 1, 2007
Chronic congestive heart failure is an insidious opponent, possessing a slow onset that results in a patient often not even noticing they are having symptoms. Over time the patient will suffer from worsening dyspnea and edema that will in due time drive them to seek treatment, where they will discover that for whatever reason that their heart is no longer able to function correctly.

Congestive Heart failure starts when the cells of the heart tissue either die or become non-functional owing to another cardiac event, usually secondary to ischemic heart condition or coronary artery disease. As a result, the heart is no longer able to pump the blood all through the body adequately; instead the blood pools, resulting in fluids being retained instead of being excreted properly and oxygen starved organs being ineffective. The death of these cells is critical insofar as, like brain cells, once the cells of the heart die the body is not up to reproducing them and restore full working function to the heart.

Congestive heart failure carries with it a very high mortality rate, with over fifty percent of its victims dying within five years of being diagnosed with it. Doctors and researchers are able to use some of the latest advancements in medicine to enable the patient to be better relaxed and, in very many cases, to provide them with a further favorable prognosis.

Multiple patients do not even discover that they have been suffering chronic congestive heart failure until they are brought into the Emergency Department of their local hospital complaining of chest pains and difficulty breathing. Doctors will stabilize them there, suppying them with supplemental oxygen and starting a course of medicinal treatment that will carry them out of the hospital.

Contemporary science has provided physicians with a wide array of methods with which to battle the distress done by chronic congestive heart failure. Whenever oxygen is returned to an acceptable level a family doctor will mainly administer a diuretic to stimulate the renal system to pull fluid out of their circulation, relieving the edema and taking a great strain off of the lungs, heart and other organs. This will also generally be accompanied by supplemental potassium, as the renal system will remove potassium as well as the nonessential fluid and hypokalemia carries with it its own hazards.

A great deal of attention in the field of medicine has been focused on the body's construction of angiotensin II as it aggravates congestive heart failure. Angiotensin II is a substance created by the body which raises blood pressure and causes the blood vessels to constrict, thereby forcing the heart to work a great deal harder to pump blood throughout the body efficiently. An ACE inhibitor will many a time be administered to prevent the body from producing angiotensin II, and an angiotensin receptor blocker is available to those who do not respond as desired to the ACE inhibitor. Many patients with heart problems are accorded nitroglycerin for this reason also.

Along with medicine, research into the field of congestive heart failure is an ongoing process. The speculated utilization of stem cells, particularly embryonic stem cells, has opened a whole field of bitter debate for treatment of heart failure in the science community. Patients with congestive heart failure were given some of their own stem cells in the heart via injection, and all reacted very favorably.

Scientists are unsure as to whether this is because the stem cells support the body in growing new vessels or just act as a signal for the body's natural healing mechanisms, drawing other cells to the site of the injury. Whichever the case may be, stem cells represent a fascinating opportunity to at last find a means by which to restore correct heart functionality to patients who have suffered with chronic congestive heart failure.

Advanced science is providing a whole new world of treatment options to patients with congestive heart failure, and researchers are making new discoveries all the time. It is the ambition of all of those in the medical field that one day chronic congestive heart failure will be another illness medicine has the answer to.
About the Author
Mark has suffered with a congestive heart problem since 1994 and is now severely disabled. He now maintains a website for anyone who wants information on congestive heart problems. More informative articles on Heart Disease are available here.
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