When Time is Critical: Insights into Managing Acute Heart Failure Emergencies

One major study found that around 960,000 new heart failure cases come annually. Acute heart failure is a medical emergency as it can happen suddenly without any warning. That’s why if you’re a patient with heart failure, ensure that you follow your heart failure action plan and treatment plan to decrease your risk of heart failure and lead a better life. Learn about heart failure symptoms and management options in this article. Get a consultation with the best cardiologists in Brooklyn.


Acute heart failure causes many symptoms, you may experience:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Heart palpitations
  • Feeling faint
  • Swelling in the arms, legs, and abdomen
  • Fatigue
  • Exercise intolerance, unusual pain, or nausea when you exert yourself
  • Nausea
  • Feel unusually full even eating just a small amount of food

Other symptoms of heart failure may include:

  • Nausea
  • Coughing and wheezing
  • Vomiting pink phlegm.
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Confusion

If you have two or more of these symptoms, then you should seek emergency medical help.


If you’re at heart failure risk, management largely depends on the severity of your symptoms. To determine the severity of your symptoms, two main classification systems are used, including:

  1. American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association Classification
  2. Stage A: In this stage, you’re at a substantial risk of heart failure but have no structural heart disease and symptoms of heart failure.
  3. Stage B: In this stage, asymptomatic left ventricular dysfunction has been found, which means a structural heart disease but no symptoms or signs of heart failure.
  4. Stage C: Overt heart failure has been found, which means structural heart disease with symptoms of heart failure.
  5. Stage D: Refractory heart failure.

Symptoms of heart failure appear only in stages C and D.

  • New York Heart Association Classification:
  • Class l: Asymptomatic left ventricular dysfunction with no limitations during physical activity or symptoms.
  • Class ll: Mild symptoms with slight limitation of physical activity start occurring and even ordinary activities lead to symptoms.
  • Class lll: Moderate symptoms with high limitation of physical activity. Less than ordinary activities can cause symptoms.
  • Class lV: Severe symptoms while at rest.

Mostly, these systems are used to decide which treatment options are best for the patient.

Treatment options

Treatment won’t cure your heart failure but can improve your quality of life. Acute heart failure can cause lasting effects on your body. That’s why treatment focuses on managing symptoms and preventing future heart failure.

If you experience acute heart failure, emergency medical care at the hospital focuses on restoring blood flow and oxygen levels until your condition gets better. For that, they may give you oxygen therapy and you may need supplemental oxygen after you leave the hospital. Vasodilators, or medications to open narrowed blood vessels may also be given.

Once your condition gets stable, they create your treatment plan based on the cause of your acute heart failure. Usually, treatment options for acute heart failure include medications, surgery, and medical devices.

  • Medications:

In most cases, a combination of two medications is used to manage heart failure. Here are some of these medications:

  • Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors: These medications are used to open your blood vessels, lower your blood pressure, and improve your blood flow. This makes the heart’s job easier.
  • Angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs): Similar to ACE inhibitors, these medications can relax your blood vessels.
  • Beta-blockers: These medications can lower your blood pressure and slow your heart rate. This normalizes your heart’s rhythms.
  • Digoxin: This drug is used to strengthen the contractions of your heart and make it beat more slowly.
  • Diuretics: This medicine, also known as water pills, prevents fluid buildup in your body.
  • Aldosterone antagonists: These are another type of diuretics that is used to reduce the amount of fluid in the body.

Depending on the cause of heart failure, your doctor may also recommend medication to treat conditions like – high cholesterol, chest pain, and blood clots.

  • Surgery:

Surgery is recommended when your symptoms are severe and not manageable with medication. To restore function, the doctor may use one of the following options, including:

  • Heart valve replacement or repair: If your heart fails because of a problematic heart valve, your doctors then either repair or replace the valve with surgery.
  • Coronary bypass surgery: In this surgery, your surgeon will remove a blood vessel from another part of your body and put it in place of a clogged artery. Sometimes less invasive alternatives, such as angioplasty with stent placement can be used instead.
  • Heart transplant: If your condition is severe and other treatments aren’t working, then your doctor may recommend heart transplant surgery.
  • Medical devices:

Besides medications, some devices are used to monitor your heart and restore functions, including:

  • Biventricular pacemaker: This device is used on both sides of your heart to send electrical impulses at the correct speed to normalize your heartbeat.
  • Implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICDs): An ICD is a device that is implanted under your skin, like a pacemaker. This helps to monitor your heart rate and uses an electrical signal to correct it when needed.
  • Heart pumps: An implant such as a ventricular assist device is used to make your heart pump blood more strongly.

If you need help with your heart failure or heart-related issues, visit our cardiology clinic in Brooklyn for professional medical help. Call us on +1(347) 384-5690. The Cardiologists at Doral Health & Wellness consistently have outstanding patient satisfaction ratings. The professionals at Heart Specialist Brooklyn are able to greatly improve their patient’s health and quality of life because of their vast training and experience. New Yorkers can get the greatest medical, surgical, and cardiovascular care at Doral Health & Wellness Brooklyn. Visit us at 1797 Pitkin Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11212.