Heart failure sounds ominous like the heart as stopped and not working, but that’s not the actual meaning. Heart failure means the heart isn’t working correctly and the body isn’t getting the oxygen it needs. A doctor can help diagnose the condition using many methods including an EKG machine.
The echocardiogram is an integral part of diagnosing heart failure, but the initial diagnosis begins with a visit to a doctor or an emergency room.
How Heart Failure Manifests
The primary role of the heart is to pump oxygenated blood through the body using its four chambers: the atria and the ventricles. The right atrium takes low oxygen blood and pumps it through the right ventricle into the lungs.
The lungs oxygenate the blood and then it goes to the left atrium and left ventricle where it travels to the rest of the body. Heart fa
ilure occurs when the heart can’t pump enough blood to keep the body oxygenated.
It’s not a heart attack. It’s the heart slowly weakening and delivering less blood to the body. The body’s response is to narrow blood vessels and ramp up blood pressure and diverts blood away from other tissues and organs.
Eventually, these measures lead to fatigue, breathing problems and other issues that cause you to the doctor.
Diagnosing Heart Failure with EKG Machines
The doctor begins the assessment with a physical overview and medical history. If you have diabetes, high blood pressure, smoke, etc., then you’re at a higher risk for heart failure.
The doctor listens to your heart and lungs using a stethoscope and asks you about symptoms. It’s normal to feel embarrassed if you don’t eat well or have a few bad habits, but it’s important to be honest. It can save your life.
There are a few easy tests that can be done to help further the diagnosis. They’ll draw blood and run tests to check levels of sodium, potassium, creatinine and others. They’ll do X-rays to determine if the heart is enlarged or your lungs are congested.
An EKG machine or ECG machines records your heart rhythm and can determine if you’re having or had a heart attack, a thickening of the left ventricle or abnormal heart rhythm.
They can also do a stress test that measures how your heart works under stress such as exercise. They monitor vitals and your reaction.
If these tests show possible heart failure, then they can order a multiple-gated acquisition scan, cardiac catheterization or magnetic resonance imaging.
You Have Heart Failure…Now What
Heart failure isn’t necessarily something that happens immediately. People can have it for years and never realize it. Treating your heart failure depends on how bad the heart failure is, what type of heart failure and how it impacts you.
The lifestyle you led prior to being diagnosed will likely change. While the damage can’t be cured, it can be stopped or slowed through treatment. If you smoke, you need to quit. Nicotine increases blood pressure and heart rate and clogs blood vessels.
Obesity and being overweight places a bigger burden on your heart. Begin a regular exercise regimen (approved by your doctor) and eat healthier. Cut out fried foods and sodium as much as possible. Don’t drink more than a drink or two of alcohol per day and try to manage your stress.
There are number of medications to help with heart failure, high blood pressure, etc. Some help with the heart directly and others reduce the body’s water retention and other issues.
If the heart failure is severe enough there are surgical and implant options available. Devices such as a pacemaker are placed on the heart to help regulate heart rhythm and electrical current. You can also have bypass surgery to reroute blood vessels or angioplasty to open up blocked arteries.
If the heart failure is advanced enough, you may need a heart transplant.
It’s important to follow all your doctor’s instructions, so these extreme measures are unnecessary.
The Road to Recovery
Heart failure is a serious condition, but it doesn’t have to be life threatening if you catch it early enough. An EKG machine can help diagnose it, but it’s only one step of many on the road to treatment and recovery. If you want to learn more about EKG machines or are interested in purchasing on, please check out the rest of our site.