Acute systolic heart failure (ASHF) is a severe condition in which the heart cannot pump enough blood to meet the body’s needs. The prime signs and symptoms of ASHF include shortness of breath, fatigue, swelling in the feet or ankles, and weakness. If you suspect you have this condition, call your doctor or go to the emergency department immediately.
ASHF can progress rapidly and be life-threatening if left untreated. Fortunately, ASHF is uncommon. According to a study published in PLoS One, it affects about 2.4 million people worldwide and approximately 183,000 Americans annually. Here we explore the causes of acute systolic heart failure and its treatment options.
What is Acute Systolic Heart Failure?
Acute systolic heart failure (ASHF) is when the heart fails to pump enough blood to the body’s tissues. With ASHF, the heart cannot relax between beats (known as diastole). This causes it to overfill with blood and stiffen, preventing the heart from filling with blood correctly during the next heartbeat (known as systole).
As a result, the heart cannot pump enough blood to meet the body’s needs. The primary causes of acute systolic heart failure are a heart attack, infection, high blood pressure, and certain poisons. ASF does not usually occur suddenly but develops over some time. The term “acute” indicates that heart failure occurs suddenly and progresses rapidly.
Symptoms Of Acute Systolic Heart Failure
The main symptoms of ASHF are shortness of breath,
- Swelling in the feet or ankles
- Rapid heartbeat.
These symptoms can also indicate other severe conditions such as a pulmonary embolism, heart attack, or diabetic ketoacidosis. However, ASHF can also present no symptoms. In these cases, the patient is diagnosed after a test reveals poor blood flow in the heart.
Causes of Acute Systolic Heart Failure
Heart attack. A heart attack occurs when one of the arteries supplying blood to the heart becomes blocked. If the blockage is not cleared, it can cause part of the heart muscle to die. A heart attack can cause acute systolic heart failure. Infection.
Acute systolic heart failure can result from a bacterial or viral infection that affects the heart valves (endocarditis). Bacterial endocarditis occurs when bacteria enter the bloodstream and travel to the heart valves.
Viral endocarditis occurs when a virus enters the bloodstream and travels to the heart valves. Viral endocarditis is more common than bacterial and can affect people with a weakened immune system—high blood pressure.
High blood pressure can cause the heart muscle to stiffen, which reduces its ability to pump blood. If the blood pressure is not controlled, the heart will eventually fail—other causes. Specific poisons, such as mercury and carbon tetrachloride, can cause ASHF. Certain medications can also trigger this condition, particularly those used to treat cancer.
Acute Systolic Heart Failure Treatment
Medication – Medication can be used to treat systolic heart failure caused by high blood pressure and other medical problems. However, it is ineffective against systolic heart failure caused by a heart attack.
Medications may be prescribed for angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors (ACEIs), angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs), beta-blockers, calcium channel blockers, and nitrates. Heart failure medications may have adverse side effects such as liver damage, low blood pressure, swelling of the legs, or impotence.
Therefore, it’s essential to be aware of these potential side effects and report any new or worsening symptoms to a doctor. Heart transplant – People with ASHF and other severe heart conditions may be candidates for heart transplants. A heart transplant is a major surgery often associated with significant risks, including death.
Acute Systolic Heart Failure Prognosis
If you have ASHF, you should be treated as soon as possible to prevent complications like heart failure. The prognosis for people who are diagnosed and treated early is good. However, the prognosis worsens if the condition progresses to heart failure.
The prognosis worsens further if you are over 65 years old, have other chronic diseases (such as diabetes or kidney failure), or have been diagnosed with a viral infection.
See a doctor if you have any signs or symptoms of acute systolic heart failure, such as shortness of breath, rapid heartbeat, or swelling. Acute systolic heart failure is a severe condition that is often treatable, although it may require a heart transplant in severe cases.
If you have ASHF, you should be treated as soon as possible. The prognosis for people who are diagnosed and treated early is good.