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Heart failure treatment, diagnosis & prescriptions

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Can a doctor treat heart failure on Maple?

A physical exam should be performed in person by a doctor at a clinic. That being said, doctors on Maple can renew a prescription as part of treatments for heart failure.

If a doctor on Maple believes you could be experiencing this condition, they will likely request that you receive additional lab testing for heart failure at a clinic. Once it’s been determined that heart failure is causing your symptoms, a doctor from Maple can assist you with heart failure management.

Can I get a prescription on Maple?

Yes. Our physicians can renew heart failure medications online during your consultation. Once you accept a prescription, you’ll have the option to pick it up from any pharmacy or to have it delivered to your door at no additional cost.

You can visit our How it works page to learn more.

What is heart failure?

Heart failure, also sometimes referred to as congestive heart failure, is a form of heart disease that occurs when the heart stops pumping blood as well as it should.

Untreated underlying conditions are typically the cause of congestive heart failure and result in one of the two types of heart failure: acute or chronic.

There are four stages of heart failure:

  • Stage A – At high risk of heart failure
  • Stage B – Diagnosed, but without symptoms
  • Stage C – Diagnosed, with treatable heart failure symptoms
  • Stage D – Diagnosed and experiencing symptoms that don’t get better with treatment
What are the symptoms of heart failure?

The most common symptoms of heart failure include:

  • Weakness or fatigue
  • Irregular or rapid heartbeat
  • Cough caused by heart failure allowing fluid to back up into the lungs
  • Pink or white blood-tinged phlegm
  • Nausea
  • Lack of appetite
  • Rapid weight gain caused by fluid retention
  • Increased overnight urination
  • Shortness of breath
  • Swelling in feet, ankles, or legs
  • Swelling of the abdomen
  • Chest pain caused by a heart attack
  • Decreased alertness
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Inability to exercise

These are common signs of heart failure. You should talk to a doctor about them as soon as possible.

Moreover, you should seek immediate medical attention if you start to experience:

  • Severe weakness or fainting
  • Severe chest pain
  • Rapid heartbeat alongside shortness of breath, fainting, or chest pain
  • Severe dizziness
  • Sudden or severe shortness of breath combined with coughing up mucus that’s foamy and white or pink in colour
What causes heart failure?

Typically, causes for heart failure stem from underlying conditions that aren’t being treated. These conditions leave the heart weakened and too stiff to pump properly.

Some of these underlying conditions include:

  • Coronary artery disease (narrowed arteries)
  • Heart attack
  • Myocarditis
  • Cardiomyopathy
  • Damaged or faulty heart valves
  • Hypertension
  • Heart arrhythmias
  • Congenital heart defects
  • Other diseases such as HIV, diabetes hyperthyroidism, hypothyroidism, or build-ups of iron or proteins

Other factors, like diet, can dramatically increase the risk factors for heart failure.

What’s the difference between cardiomyopathy and heart failure?

Cardiomyopathy, also known as damage of the heart muscle, is caused by different diseases, infections, chemicals related to chemotherapy, or abuse of drugs or alcohol.

One of cardiomyopathy’s symptoms can be heart failure.

So, the major difference between heart failure and cardiomyopathy is that cardiomyopathy can be a cause of heart failure, but heart failure can’t cause cardiomyopathy

What is the difference between heart failure and congestive heart failure?

Congestive heart failure is just another name for heart failure.

These are two names for the same condition, so there’s no difference between heart failure and congestive heart failure.

Is heart failure a heart attack?

Both heart attacks and heart failure are forms of heart disease. However, heart attacks occur acutely, while congestive heart failure is usually present for a long period of time. The pathology can also be completely different.

A heart attack can be a cause of heart failure, particularly in the later stages (C and D). While they aren’t the same thing, they are sometimes closely related.

How is heart failure diagnosed?

Diagnosis criteria for heart failure can change on a patient by patient basis.

The doctor will start by doing a physical examination, taking a careful look at your medical history, and discussing your current and past symptoms.

In addition to the physical exam, the doctor may suggest additional tests before offering a heart failure prognosis.

Some possible additional tests include:

  • Echocardiogram
  • Chest X-ray
  • CT Scan
  • MRI
  • Stress tests
  • Myocardial biopsy
  • Coronary angiogram
  • Electrocardiogram
  • Blood tests

If heart failure is a possibility, the doctor may also request regular blood pressure tests to monitor the strength of your heart.

Is heart failure curable?

Whether or not heart failure is curable depends on if the underlying condition causing congestive heart failure can be cured.

In many cases, these conditions can’t be cured, but they can be treated to minimize negative symptoms and help the person experiencing congestive heart failure to live longer.

How is heart failure treated?

Because heart failure is often a lifelong ailment, it usually requires long-term treatment.

Sometimes, the doctor will be able to correct congestive heart failure by treating the underlying cause (i.e. replacing a heart valve, controlling an irregular rhythm, etc.).

However, if the underlying cause can’t be corrected, several medications may be prescribed, such as:

  • Inotropes
  • Diuretics
  • Beta-blockers
  • Aldosterone antagonists
  • Digoxin
  • Angiotensin II receptor blockers
  • Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors

Many patients experiencing congestive heart failure require surgery or devices to assist the heart to beat and contract properly. Some of these options include:

  • Heart transplant
  • Biventricular pacing
  • Cardiac resynchronization therapy (CRT)
  • Heart valve repair
  • Heart valve replacement
  • Implantable cardioverter-defibrillators (ICDs)
  • Coronary bypass surgery
  • Ventricular assist devices (VADs)

With changes to diet and exercise routines and heart failure treatments suggested by the doctor, many patients are able to extend their lives and avoid dying suddenly from congestive heart failure.

What is Maple?

With Maple, you can start talking to a doctor about your symptoms in minutes. We’re a healthcare platform for fast, convenient 24/7 access to Canadian doctors.

Simply log in, tap a button to request a consultation, and we’ll connect you to a doctor via live chat or video. You can visit our How it works page to learn more.

Our doctors can assess symptoms and provide treatment, including prescriptions as necessary.

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