Diagnosis and Treatment of Heart Failure within the Communuity
Haim Ben-Ami, Yehuda Edoute
Dept. of Medicine C, Rambam Medical Center and Technion Faculty of Medicine, Haifa
Congestive heart failure causes substantial morbidity and mortality. Symptoms and physical findings can help in diagnosis, but have limited sensitivity and specificity. Objective measurement of ventricular function is essential in virtually all patients in whom heart failure is suspected; reversible causes of heart failure must be sought.
Out-patient management includes education and counseling, emphasis on and assessment of compliance with diet, and pharmacological treatment. Angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors are the mainstay of treatment but are underused, and maximal doses are not given, apparently because of concern about side-effects. Diuretics should be administered only as needed to manage fluid overload. Calcium channel blockers are relatively contraindicated in patients with impaired ventricular function. Patient follow-up should be guided by results of the medical history and physical examination. Routine serial testing of ventricular function and exercise performance is discouraged.