Congestive Heart Failure: Left Versus Right.
So what is congestive heart failure (also known as CHF)? CHF is when the heart isn’t able to pump blood to the body correctly, and as such various clinical signs occurs. In doggies, this frequently happen to degenerative valve disease, Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM), or other heart diseases. A post further explaining these can be found here.
Now heart failure can manifest as left-sided (from diseases on the left side of the heart), or right-sided (from disease on the right side of the heart). Knowing what clinical signs are associated with which one is related to blood flow. To review, the veins of the body flow into the RIGHT ATRIUM -> RIGHT VENTRICLE-> LUNGS (via pulmonary artery) -> LEFT ATRIUM (via pulmonary vein) -> LEFT VENTRICLE -> BODY (via aorta).
In Right-sided failure, there is blood back-flow (the “congestive” part of CHF), from the RIGHT side of the heart to the BODY. This causes fluid to accumulate in the abdomen, called ascites. This can also lead to fluid building up in the limbs called edema.
In left-sided heart failure, there is blood back-flow (the “congestive” part of CHF), from the LEFT side of the heart to the LUNGS. This causes fluid to accumulate in the lungs, called pulmonary edema. This leads to coughing and difficulty breathing!
TIP: Left-side CHF is most common!!! Therefore one of the most common clinical signs of CHF is coughing and respiratory distress! Having trouble breathing is not always a primary lung disease, but can be secondary to heart failure!
TIP: CHF, once established, can always be a problem and acute clinical signs can reoccur. However, it is possible that CHF can be well managed for some time with proper treatment.