The heart never takes a break. The heart is a strong muscle that never stops exercising, not for a minute. Every minute it needs blood, nourishment and oxygen. At Amarillo Heart Institute, we understand the importance of keeping your heart healthy and functioning at its best. We believe that a healthy heart is the foundation of a healthy life, and our goal is to provide you with all you need to achieve optimal heart health, a happier heart.

Congestive Heart Failure

Congestive heart failure (CHF) is a condition in which the heart is unable to pump enough blood to meet the body’s needs. The term “congestive” refers to the accumulation of fluid that can occur in various parts of the body, such as the lungs, liver, and legs, due to the heart’s inability to effectively circulate blood.

The peripheral arteries are essential for delivering oxygen and nutrients to the tissues of the body. Examples of peripheral arteries include the brachial artery in the arm, the femoral artery in the leg, and the iliac artery in the pelvis.

Risk factors for Congestive Heart Failure

  • Coronary Artery Disease: Narrowed or blocked arteries restrict blood flow to the heart muscle, leading to damage and weakening the heart muscle over time.

  • Hypertension (high blood pressure): Prolonged high pressure damages the heart and blood vessels, leading to heart enlargement and eventually heart failure.

  • Diabetes: High blood sugar levels can damage the blood vessels and nerves that control the heart, increasing the risk of heart disease and heart failure.

  • Cardiomyopathy: A disease of the heart muscle that weakens the heart and impairs its ability to pump blood effectively, leading to heart failure.

  • Certain heart rhythm disorders: Abnormal heart rhythms can weaken the heart muscle over time, leading to heart failure.

  • Advanced age: The risk of heart failure increases with age, as the heart becomes less efficient and more prone to damage.

  • African-American descent: African Americans are at higher risk for developing heart disease, which can lead to heart failure.

  • Chronic alcohol and/or drug abuse: Alcohol and drug abuse can damage the heart muscle and blood vessels, leading to heart failure.

  • Hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism: Overactive or underactive thyroid gland can increase the risk of heart disease and heart failure.

  • Prior chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy for cancer: Some cancer treatments can damage the heart and increase the risk of heart failure.

  • Obesity: Excess weight can strain the heart, leading to heart enlargement and eventually heart failure.

  • Pulmonary hypertension: High blood pressure in the lungs can damage the right side of the heart and lead to heart failure.

  • Sedentary lifestyle: Lack of physical activity can weaken the heart muscle and increase the risk of heart disease and heart failure.

  • Previous heart valve disease: Damage to heart valves can strain the heart and eventually lead to heart failure.

  • Previous coronary artery bypass graft surgery: Previous heart surgery can increase the risk of heart failure.

  • Family history of heart failure: Genetics can play a role in the development of heart disease and heart failure.

Symptoms for Congestive Heart Failure

Although symptoms of congestive heart failure can appear suddenly, they usually come on gradually, over time.

Some heart failure symptoms are caused by fluid backing up in the lungs, abdomen, or extremities. Others reflect the heart’s reduced ability to deliver oxygen-rich blood to the body. Symptoms that persist or worsen despite treatment indicate that heart failure is becoming more advanced.

Heart failure symptoms can include:

  • Abnormal heart rhythm or palpitations
  • Chronic cough or wheezing
  • Decreased urine production
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Fatigue or fainting spells
  • Feeling of fullness, loss of appetite, or abdominal pain
  • Fluid retention, which causes swollen extremities or abdomen (edema)
  • Loss of muscle mass
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Shortness of breath upon exertion or when lying down
  • Sleep apnea
  • Weight gain
  • Patients diagnosed with heart failure who have been hospitalized at least twice in the past year should consider asking their doctors for a referral to Amarillo Heart Institute’s advanced heart failure specialists for an evaluation.

Treatment for Congestive Heart Failure


  • Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors
  • Angiotensin-receptor blockers (ARBs)
  • Angiotensin-receptor antagonists combined with a neprilysin inhibitor (ARNi)
  • Mineralocorticoid receptor blockers (aldosterone blockers)
  • Beta blockers to lower blood pressure
  • Digitalis drugs to regulate and strengthen the heartbeat
  • Anti-arrhythmic drugs to regulate the heart rate
  • Vasodilators to open arteries and improve blood flow
  • Digoxin to stimulate the heart
  • Diuretics to reduce water retention

Lifestyle changes:

  • Quit smoking
  • Avoid alcohol, caffeine, and stress
  • Reduce fluid intake
  • Reduce the amount of salt in the diet


CardioMEMS - A monitoring system for heart failure

CardioMEMS is a medical device used for monitoring heart failure in patients with chronic heart disease. It consists of a small wireless sensor that is implanted in the pulmonary artery, which is a blood vessel that carries blood from the heart to the lungs. The sensor measures the pressure inside the pulmonary artery and transmits the data wirelessly to a receiver, which is placed outside the body.

The data collected by the sensor can help doctors monitor the patient’s condition and adjust their treatment plan as needed. By tracking changes in the pulmonary artery pressure, doctors can identify early signs of worsening heart failure and intervene before the patient experiences a serious health event.

The CardioMEMS device is typically implanted during a minimally invasive procedure that involves threading a catheter through a vein in the patient’s leg and up to the pulmonary artery. Once the device is in place, it can be monitored remotely by the patient’s healthcare team, who can access the data from anywhere using a secure web portal.

Overall, CardioMEMS is a valuable tool for managing heart failure in patients with chronic heart disease, allowing doctors to track the patient’s condition more closely and make informed decisions about their care.

The treatment of heart failure can be viewed as a continuum. In general, early treatment focuses on lifestyle changes and optimization of basic medical therapies. The next steps in treatment might include more aggressive medical therapies or the installation of a device such as a pacemaker or implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD).

For the small percentage of patients for whom heart failure continues to progress despite less aggressive treatments, our team of experts offers the most advanced surgical solutions, such as left ventricular assist devices and heart transplantation.

How to prevent Congestive Heart Failure

While there is no guaranteed way to prevent congestive heart failure (CHF), there are several things you can do to reduce your risk of developing the condition:

  • Manage your underlying health conditions: Many conditions, such as hypertension, diabetes, and coronary artery disease, can increase your risk of CHF. If you have one or more of these conditions, work closely with your healthcare provider to manage them effectively.
  • Maintain a healthy lifestyle: Eating a healthy diet, getting regular exercise, maintaining a healthy weight, and avoiding smoking can all help to reduce your risk of CHF.
  • Take prescribed medications as directed: If you have a condition that requires medication, be sure to take it exactly as your healthcare provider prescribes.
  • Manage stress: Chronic stress can increase your risk of CHF. Try to manage stress through relaxation techniques, such as meditation or yoga.
  • Get regular check-ups: Regular check-ups with your healthcare provider can help identify early signs of heart disease or other conditions that may increase your risk of CHF.
  • Be aware of your family history: If there is a history of heart disease or CHF in your family, talk to your healthcare provider about steps you can take to reduce your risk.

It’s important to note that not all cases of CHF can be prevented, especially in cases where the condition is caused by genetic factors or other uncontrollable factors. However, following these steps can help reduce your risk and improve your overall heart health.

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