Heart palpitations and dizziness are just a few of the symptoms you may experience if you’re living with congestive heart failure. “If blood is not circulating effectively, it can build up in the lungs, and it can cause symptoms of shortness of breath, it can cause symptoms of fatigue. You can have fluid retention so that you swell in your feet or in your lungs. These are all signs of congestive heart failure,” explained Dr. Erick Burton, a cardiologist with Lee Health.
If symptoms are presented to a physician, doctors can identify if a patient is at risk of having a cardiac episode. “The big thing that we’ve identified over the past 20 years is if we wait for an event to occur, and then we start to get busy of trying to help them often we miss a lot of folks because the first event can be the last,” said Dr. Burton.
Patients at risk may qualify for a surgical intervention--like a pacemaker or a defibrillator-- to prevent a cardiac problem from ever happening. “A pacemaker and a defibrillator are very similar. They are devices that we place inside of people to protect them from abnormal electrical events,” he said.
A pacemaker is used to treat abnormal slow heartbeats, which can often cause people to blackout. A defibrillator has a pacemaker in it, but unlike a pacemaker, it can recognize and react to potentially life-threatening arrhythmias. “The defibrillator, in general, tends to be a little bit bigger because it has to have a little bit more battery juice to be able to get people out of these abnormal heart rhythms,” said Dr. Burton.
In addition to surgical intervention, doctors also recommend patients stop smoking, treat high blood pressure, and modify their diet to lower their risk of a cardiac episode.