2 MINUTES ON.. ACUTE HEART FAILURE.
What is it?
A sudden deterioration in the pumping action of the heart, usually the left ventricle, which leads to accumulation of fluid in the lungs. If it isn't treated immediately, it is life-threatening.
What are the causes?
The most common cause of acute heart failure is a heart attack that damages a large area of heart muscle. Right-sided acute heart failure is rare and it is usually as a result of a blood clot blocking the pulmonary artery (pulmonary embolism).
What are the symptoms?
Symptoms usually develop rapidly and include severe shortness of breath, wheezing, a cough with pink, frothy sputum, and pale skin and sweating. If heart failure is caused by a pulmonary embolism, you may cough up blood and have a sharp chest pain that is worse when breathing in.
What might be done?
Acute heart failure is a medical emergency, so dial 999.
In the ambulance, you'll be advised to sit in an upright position and oxygen may be given through a face mask.
You may need electrocardiography (ECG) and echocardiography to evaluate the function of the heart and to look for the cause of the heart failure.
A chest X-ray usually confirms the presence of fluid in the lungs.
You may also have coronary angiography to spot a blockage.
What is the treatment?
Intravenous diuretics and medication to boost the heart's efficiency, such as ACE inhibitors or beta-blockers, plus anticoagulants for an embolism.