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Falla Cardíaca

¿Qué es y cómo se trata?

La insuficiencia cardíaca se desarrolla lentamente, a medida que el músculo cardíaco se va debilitando. En un corazón sano, las cámaras se contraen y relajan de modo coordinado o en sincronía. En el caso de personas con insuficiencia cardíaca, sus corazones no bombean tan sincronizados como debieran y la sangre no circula como debe hacerlo.

¿Cuáles son las causas?

Las causas de una insuficiencia cardíaca varían con la edad y los antecedentes familiares, pero tienen un factor común: de algún modo dañan el músculo cardíaco, y éste no bombea la sangre como debiera. Hay varios factores de riesgo de insuficiencia cardiaca, y es importante señalar que uno de estos factores o la combinación de varios puede conducir a una fibrilación ventricular.

  • Enfermedad arterial coronaria y ataque cardíaco
    El músculo cardíaco tiene sus propios vasos sanguíneos, denominados arterias coronarias, que transportan sangre rica en oxígeno a las paredes del corazón. Cuando un vaso obstruido interrumpe el flujo sanguíneo hacia el corazón, una parte del músculo presenta un daño permanente y se produce un ataque cardíaco. Su gravedad dependerá del daño que haya tenido el músculo y del tiempo que estuvo sin recibir oxígeno.
  • Problemas respiratorios
    Se encuentran entre los síntomas más habituales de insuficiencia cardíaca. Algunos se producen cuando se acumula líquido en los pulmones y tejidos circundantes, pudiendo provocar ahogo después de realizar ejercicio leve,  jadeos similares a los que se presentan en los casos de asma, o tos seca después de estar acostado durante unas horas. Las etapas avanzadas de insuficiencia cardíaca pueden provocar una sensación de asfixia.
  • Si la cantidad de sangre que llega a los tejidos del cuerpo es demasiado escasa, los tejidos pueden retener líquido y comenzar a hincharse. La hinchazón comienza por los pies, continúa por los tobillos y las piernas, y luego por el abdomen. A medida que los tejidos retienen sal y agua, se puede aumentar de peso aunque se coma menos.
  • Otros síntomas de insuficiencia cardíaca pueden ser fatiga, palpitaciones, dificultad para concentrarse, mareos, desmayos y problemas para conciliar el sueño.

¿Cómo se realiza el diagnóstico?

Además de un examen físico, el médico puede indicar un análisis de sangre, radiografías, electrocardiograma, ecocardiograma u otros análisis para diagnosticar la insuficiencia cardíaca.
Un diagnóstico precoz es fundamental para un tratamiento temprano, con el que demorar la aparición de algunos síntomas.
El médico puede utilizar distintos  métodos para determinar si padece una insuficiencia cardíaca, determinando la gravedad del trastorno y la mejor forma de tratarlo.
Comenzará preguntándole antecedentes médicos y síntomas. Luego evaluará el corazón: si está agrandado, si presenta un ritmo irregular. También evaluará si hay un sonido anormal en los pulmones, si hay inflamación o dolor al palpar la región hepática, si hay retención de líquidos. Para confirmar un diagnóstico de insuficiencia cardíaca el médico puede solicitar algunos exámenes como análisis de sangre, radiografías de tórax, electrocardiograma, ecocardiograma, prueba de esfuerzo, cateterismo, estudio electrofisiologíco.

 ¿En qué consiste el tratamiento?

La insuficiencia cardíaca no se puede curar pero existen muchas opciones de tratamiento, que pueden ayudar a evitar que la enfermedad avance, llevar una vida más normal, reducir los síntomas y la necesidad de hospitalización, y reducir el riesgo de muerte.
Los diferentes tratamientos incluyen cambios en el estilo de vida, medicamentos, dispositivos implantables y cirugías. La posibilidad de una terapia para la insuficiencia cardíaca, y sus efectos, pueden variar de una persona a otra. El médico indicará cuál es el tratamiento adecuado en cada caso.

La  terapia de resincronización cardíaca (TRC) es una de las opciones. Se realiza mediante un dispositivo que, mediante el uso de pulsos eléctricos sincronizados, ayuda a que el ritmo del corazón con insuficiencia cardíaca se asemeje más a un latido normal.

Prevención 

Se aconseja seguir una dieta baja en grasas y rica en fibras, reducir el consumo de alcohol, no fumar, y realizar ejercicios físicos en forma regular.