The ED physician suspects that Mike is living with congestive heart failure (CHF). The health care team needs to evaluate his EKG, X-ray and laboratory test results to be certain, but they are already taking action. The physician uses his knowledge of anatomy and physiology while evaluating each of Mike’s symptoms:
Coughing: Mike’s ventricles, the main pumping chambers in his heart, are not able to pump blood efficiently through his body. The blood is backing up (congesting) in his lungs. He is coughing to try to clear his lungs of this excess fluid.
Squeezing sensation in his chest: Heart failure is usually caused by a problem with the lower left chamber of the heart. Under normal conditions, this chamber will pump out more than 50 percent of its capacity of blood during each heartbeat. With Mike’s condition, his heart may be pumping out 40 percent or less of its capacity. As a result, a large portion of his blood is remaining in the chamber and there is less room for blood coming from the lungs during the next heartbeat. His blood may be backing up inside the heart and lungs, resulting in a squeezing sensation.
Swollen legs: With his heart’s decreased ability to pump, blood flow slows down throughout Mike’s body causing excess fluid to build up in tissues which results in swelling. This is called edema.
Knowing that Mike has a history of hypertension and high cholesterol, and that oftentimes heart failure develops after other conditions have damaged or weakened the heart; the physician makes the diagnosis of Congestive Heart Failure.
As a team, watch this video for additional information on Mike’s condition:
Internet research: Congestive heart failure can cause other signs and symptoms in addition to those that Mike is experiencing. List the other signs and symptoms.
Congestive heart failure: Heart failure, sometimes known as congestive heart failure (CHF), occurs when your heart muscle doesn’t pump blood as well as it should. Conditions such as narrowed arteries in your heart (coronary artery disease) or high blood pressure gradually leave your heart too weak or stiff to fill and pump efficiently.
(“Heart Failure.” Mayo Clinic. N.p., n.d. Web 16 Sept. 2014.)
Hypertension: High blood pressure is a common condition in which the force of the blood against your artery walls is high enough that it may eventually cause health problems, such as heart disease.
(“High Blood Pressure (hypertension).” Mayo Clinic. N.p., n.d. Web 08 June 2014.)